Story by Whitney Allen
Feature Photo by Melissa Scott
In a turn of events Cadet Jacqueline Coplen describes as the “supreme irony of the military”, she was unable to attend her mother’s Army retirement ceremony because of her own LDAC training.
On Friday, Coplen’s mom, Col. Lorelei Coplen, retired after 30 years of service in the Army.
But just because Coplen couldn’t physically attend didn’t mean she would miss the occasion.
Coplen was able to view the ceremony through Skype at BOSS Avenue, a recreation center on base. On the other end, Coplen ‘sat’ on the stage on an iPad, and was even able to address her mother and those in attendance.
Coplen said the Skype session was her mom’s idea. “My mom wanted to do this and I was happy to oblige,” Coplen said.
Coplen is a student at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania and she is an ROTC cadet at nearby Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Both of her parents graduated from West Point and served in the Army, and her grandfather served in Vietnam.
Coplen said the decision to join ROTC was her own, although she was certainly influenced by her mother.
“She had a huge influence on me with being a female in the military and being an empowered woman,” Coplen said.
Coplen describes her mother as someone who has served a multitude of roles in the Army. Col. Coplen was commissioned in aviation, served in Desert Storm, worked in the Pentagon, commanded a battalion in Iraq and assisted with the development of the early SHARP programs.
“She’s been very willing to serve the needs of the Army,” Coplen said.
Both Coplen’s mother and her personal experience in ROTC have played a huge role in her expectations for LDAC training.
“The Army has been a huge part of my life, it’s taught me things through my parents and ROTC.” Coplen said.
Coplen said the Army values and leadership dimensions that have been instilled in her have helped her adjust to LDAC training.
As Col. Coplen wraps up her military career, Cadet Coplen anticipates what’s to come of hers.
Coplen plans to make a career out of her time in the Army, and intends to take an educational delay to attend law school and become a JAG officer.
“She’s had a huge influence on me and that I can do anything I want,” Coplen said. “She’s proud of me and supports me 100 percent.”