CLEVELAND – Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel Barker, staff noncommissioned officer in charge of Recruiting Substation Tri-County here, was taken by surprise when his stepdaughter let the family know that she intended to join the Marine Corps.
“Initially, I thought she was joking,” explained the 34-year-old, Bethel, Ohio native. “She had never really mentioned anything about the military before, and I think we all just assumed that she would follow her older sister to Arizona State.”
But Marine Corps Pfc. Jessica Lopez had different plans.
“I had been thinking about it since my freshman year of high school,” the 18-year-old Marine said. She enlisted in June 2012 out of Recruiting Substation Canton, where Barker previously served as a recruiter.
“The opportunities that are available in the Marine Corps always appealed to me, but it was getting a chance to see the type of Marine my dad is that really inspired me,” she said. “I was inspired by his work ethic, especially after becoming a recruiter. He worked so hard, but still took care of his family. That’s something that I’ve wanted for myself.”
That choice earned Lopez an all-expenses-paid trip to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. She graduated from recruit training Aug. 16, and now is at air traffic controller school in Pensacola, Fla.
Though she has been a Marine just a short time, Lopez said, she has big plans for herself and her time in the Corps, with aspirations to be a Marine security guard and later a drill instructor.
Barker’s experience made her sure she was making the right decision, Lopez said. “My family was very supportive of my decision,” she added, “and my dad really helped me with all the information I needed to make the right choice.”