A female Marine who died in Iraq’s Anbar province Feb. 7 was killed at a checkpoint while participating in the Corps’ Lioness program, according to a Feb. 23 Marine Corps news release.
Cpl. Jennifer M. Parcell, a landing support specialist with Okinawa, Japan-based Combat Logistics Regiment 3, assumed her billet with the Lioness program Feb. 1, according to a spokesman for III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa. The program uses female Marines from different military occupational specialties to search Iraqi woman at checkpoints.
Parcell, who was a few weeks shy of returning to Okinawa, was killed when an Iraqi woman she was searching detonated an explosive vest, the release said.
Parcell was the fifth female Marine to be killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
The last time the Corps lost Marines in the Lioness program was June 23, 2005, when Cpls. Holly Ann Charette, 21, and Ramona M. Valdez, 20, were killed when their convoy was hit by a car bomb.
There was a little [Iraqi] boy who I had been interacting with,” she said. “He was really scared and wouldn’t leave my side. One of the grunts came back, gave me his flak jacket and told me to put it on the boy.
“He had no problem giving up his flak and risking his own safety. That is when I decided I wanted to do a more combat-related [job]. I wanted to be more like them.”
Prior to beginning her next deployment to Iraq, Aguilar volunteered to go through the machine gunner’s course not thinking she, as a female, would be called upon to put these skills to use.
Though she had her doubts, Aguilar had already extended her contract to the Marine Corps in hopes of experiencing the deployment from the turret of an armored vehicle.
“I was really shocked when my name was called and I had been chosen,” Aguilar said.
When Marines on the hunt for insurgents here kick in the door, Spc. Shannon Morgan isn’t far behind. She’s part of “Team Lioness,” a small group of women proving itself in one of Iraq’s hottest combat zones.
Women are serving throughout the war zone, but the soldiers in this band of sisters are unique. They’re joining male Marines and soldiers on offensive ops, taking part in raids, security patrols and vehicle checkpoints.
The women are not walking point or leading infantry squads in the assault, but their secondary role is no less important to the success or failure of a mission here. They accompany the infantrymen to conduct body searches of Iraqi women, allowing U.S. forces to hunt for insurgents while not offending the citizens they seek to win over.
Most of the women with the 1st Engineer Battalion company are construction vehicle drivers or mechanics who are certified on the .50-caliber machine gun. Seeing an opportunity to join the fight, they jumped at the chance to go on raids. Many have seen more action than their male counterparts.
“Our Army guys would love to put a wig on and go out and do this stuff,” said Staff Sgt. Ranie Ruthig from Wentworth, S.D. “And we like to rub it in.”
Marines learned the value of bringing a Lioness to the fight when 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, arrived here in March. In the months since, 2/4 has become one of the team’s biggest customers.
The leathernecks were decidedly skeptical when the Lionesses first appeared, because women aren’t supposed to be assigned to combat-arms units below the division level.
They took them in anyway.
U.S. Marines and Navy Sailors receive training in martial arts while attending the Lioness Program in Al Asad, Iraq, March 29, 2007. The Lioness Program trains female military personnel in self-defense as well as the proper way to search female Iraqis. DoD photo by Sgt. James R. Richardson, U.S. Marine Corps. http://www.thedonovan.com/archives/2007/04/01-week/
Just google or bing the Lioness program