ABOARD USS KEARSARGE -- As predeployment training progresses for most Marine Expeditionary Units, personnel develop a certain bond with coworkers, and they become somewhat of a close-knit family.
Well, for two individuals on the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment, close-knit family runs a little deeper than a coworker or friend. The Forcellese family, of Baltimore, Md., has two daughters aboard the USS Kearsarge for the 2001 deployment to the Mediterranean Sea.
Cpl. Teresa Forcelles, Field Radio Operator, MSSG 24, is fortunate enough to share the passageways and ladderwells aboard the USS Kearsarge with a very special crewmember - her sister, Operation Specialist 2nd Class Frances Oldfield.
How did siblings manage to deploy together? They both put planning and work into it. Teresa was nearing the end of her deployment in 2000 when she found out that she would be aboard the USS Kearsarge in 2001.
"Once I knew what ship I was going to be on," explains Teresa. "I called my sister and told her to try to get on the same ship."
Once Frances found out, she paid the Combat Information Center aboard the USS Kearsarge a visit.
"I talked to the Senior Chief there and he told me that they were undermanned for [operation specialists]," said Frances. "When he called the detailer, he made a request for 'OS's and then mentioned me by name," she added.
Their combined efforts paid off and now they get to spend quality time with a real family member.
"It's nice having your very own sister on the same ship with you," said Teresa. "We get along with one another perfectly."
"It's comforting having her around," Frances added. "We're away from home, but it's like we have a piece of home right here with us."
Additionally, they share a lot more than passageways and ladderwells.
"We go to the ship's store together," said Frances.
"We do laundry together and help each other out in anyway we can," chimed in
Teresa. "She uses my email when she needs to send something home, or one of us may be low on cash. It's an automatic buddy system."
"We share clothes too," said Frances. "I didn't pack very many clothes, because I knew I could wear some of [Teresa's].
According to Teresa, they spend a lot of time together and seem to enjoy each other's company.
"We usually see each other at breakfast," she said. "In the evenings, [Frances] spends more time in my berthing than her own."
"It helps that we worked it out so our schedules are pretty much the same," said Frances.
The sisters discussed how their joint deployment makes the rest of the family very happy.
They echoed each other, "The rest of the family is happy, especially mom, because we both had to do one more deployment and they felt it was better that we do it together."
Not only do the Forcellese sisters get to travel the Mediterranean Sea together, but they also get to enjoy another special surprise when they return from deployment.
"Our older sister is pregnant and is scheduled to deliver by the time we return," said Frances. "So we'll have a new niece or nephew."
Most siblings would enjoy having the time that Frances and Teresa have together, but never get the opportunity.
Frances explains the whole situation in one sentence.
"If I hadn't done anything to get here, I would have been somewhere else."
Follow the 24th MEU (SOC) deployment on their website at www.usmc.mil/24meu.