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5 sisters from 2 families graduate from Marine boot camp at SC's Parris Island

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Five sisters from two families graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina this past weekend. MCRDPI/Provided

PARRIS ISLAND — It was a good day for sisterhood this weekend at the Marine Corps graduation, where five sisters — two from one family and three from another — earned the title of Marine.

Very few women join the Marine Corps — only about 8 percent of the branch, according to the latest Pentagon data.

But it's even more rare to have sisters all join the fight together, with two members of the Valentine family from Virginia and three of the Jaramillo family from Las Vegas all finishing out.

Ashley Valentine, 19, made a promise to carry on her grandfather's legacy in the military when he passed away. Her sister Amber Valentine, 22, decided to join with her.

“After talking with the recruiter about how it would impact my life, I was committed,” Amber said. “I was ready to go no matter what.”

The sisters from Manassas, Va., will not attend the next phase of training together because Ashley fractured her hip prior to graduation and will stay at Parris Island to heal.

Amber will continue on in the communications field; Ashley will be certified as a motor transportation operator.

“I know she’s going to be OK,” Ashley said of Amber. “She’s always been independent and I know she’s going to succeed in her career.”

Ashley and Amber Valentine weren't the only sisters to graduate from boot camp. 

Maria, Vanessa and Melissa Placido Jaramillo were all born in Panama and moved to Las Vegas at a young age.

The three sisters made a pact to join the military together. It was that bond that got them through the rigors of boot camp.

“We have an unbreakable bond,” Maria said. “We are always together, but we know how to live separately. I know that my sisters will always be there for me, even when they are not physically with me.”

Maria, 21, said she loved war movies growing up.

When she saw the film “Tears of the Sun” starring Bruce Willis for the first time, she said she was inspired to join the military. The movie depicts a U.S. Navy SEAL team's rescue mission during a civil war in Nigeria.

Her two sisters, identical twins Melissa and Vanessa, 22, were also in ROTC, but it was their younger sister who first spoke with a Marine Corps recruiter and convinced them they should join. 

They motivated each other during training.

“When one of us is lacking and the other is strong in that area, we always push each other to become to best we can be,” Melissa said.

The three sisters have yet to find out the jobs they will be assigned.

Additionally, all of them are preparing to become naturalized U.S. citizens.

Boot camp is 13 weeks long and consists of rigorous physical training, martial arts instruction and learning military protocol and ceremony. 

It is not unheard of for brothers to finish the Marine Corps together but sisters in the same class are rare.

Reach Thomas Novelly at 843-937-5713. Follow him @TomNovelly on Twitter. 

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