By PATRICIA M.MURRET, Capital News Service
WASHINGTON - On "My Space," a Web site where members profile their life and loves, post messages and reach out through e-mail, Marine Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell beams from a photo next to a caption saying, "Going to be chillin' in Iraq for awhile."
Down to just a couple weeks left in her service in Iraq, Parcell, 20, of Bel Air, was killed Wednesday while supporting combat operations in Al Anbar province, Defense officials said Thursday. Now her My Space page is rapidly filling with tributes to the slender 5-foot-2-inch lover of Jimmy Buffett and the Texas band Bowling for Soup.
"We're just all very much in shock," said Parcell's cousin, Candace Atwood. "She had just told us that she was coming home."
On Jan. 29, the last day she logged into her "My Space" account, Parcell sent Atwood an e-mail saying that she had "just 22 days left" before departing Iraq for good and returning to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for another year of service, Atwood said.
"She was really looking forward to being in California . . . She joined the Marines mainly to travel, and she was really looking forward to doing that," Atwood said. She'd planned to leave the Marines at the end of her California tour.
A landing support specialist for 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Parcell often assisted in transferring supplies, food and ammunition.
Wednesday evening, her family was told by Marine officials that she was killed along with other Marines by a suicide bomber during a sensitive mission at a military checkpoint, said Ray Fender, a spokesman for the family.
Though the family does not know the details of what occurred, Fender said they were told Parcell was searching Iraqi women for explosives and had been able to detect a bomber.
The family wishes the Iraqi people no malice, Fender said. Their Christian beliefs dictate reaching out in love to them.
"We do not believe that Jenny's life was taken. We believe that her life was given," Fender said. "She was a good kid. Anyone would love to have her as their daughter."
He called her "a good Marine" and said, "We're so proud of what she's done to serve with her country."
Parcell attended middle school in Bel Air, Atwood said, and graduated from Fallston High School in 2004.
In late June 2004, she followed in the footsteps of her older brother Marine Cpl. Joseph "Joey" Parcell, 24, and enlisted in the Marines. She pursued college courses at Hartford Community College in Bel Air, before departing for boot camp on Jan. 2, 2005.
Determined to complete her college education, Parcell continued online study from her foreign posts, even while in Iraq, Fender said.
After initial training in Parris Island, S.C., and job specialty training in North Carolina's Camp LeJeune area, Parcell was assigned to the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, Japan, where she served until her deployment to Iraq in August, Marine officials said Thursday.
While in Japan, the soldier relished learning more about her culture and background, Atwood said. Parcell's Japanese paternal grandmother is originally from Okinawa.
Parcell was promoted to corporal in 2006 and received six medals during her military service, Marine officials said.
A longtime member of Mount Calvary Free Will Baptist Church in Aberdeen, Parcell often volunteered in the nursery and helped prepare congregational dinners with her aunt, Martha Benton, a secretary in the church, Atwood said.
She had a talent for all things artistic, longtime friend Michelle "Shelly" Wolff said, whether that was arranging flowers at the church, dressing up and taking photos or painting a picture.
Wolff recalled accompanying church friends and Parcell to a high school art exhibit to see Parcell's painting of a favorite rock band's album cover.
Atwood cherishes a still-life painting of a vase of sunflowers that earned Parcell an A-plus.
Known affectionately as "Boo" by family, Parcell considered her brother a "best friend," and named her mother her personal hero on her My Space page.
Parcell is survived by her parents, John and Pam Parcell Simon of Bel Air, and her brother and sister-in-law, Joseph and Sarah Parcell of Bel Air, and other relatives.
A memorial service will be held this week at Mount Calvary Free Will Baptist Church in Aberdeen and burial will be at Bel Air Memorial Gardens. Her maternal grandfather, Eugene Albert Parcell of West Virginia, will also be buried there. He died the day after his granddaughter was killed.
View Jennifer's MySpace Page