>From the Casper Star-Tribune:
Wyo man dies in Afghanistan
Marine from Gillette, 19, had married just before October deployment
PETE NICKEAS – Star-Tribune staff writer
Posted: Tuesday, March 30, 2010 1:45 am
A Gillette teenager described by a comrade as “an excellent Marine” was killed in southern Afghanistan last week, according to military officials.
Lance Cpl. Jacob Ross, 19, died as a result of a “hostile” incident in Helmand province on Wednesday, U.S. military officials confirmed Monday.
The incident occurred about 11 a.m., according to Lance Cpl. Logan Curb, who attended the School of Infantry and was deployed to Afghanistan with Ross.
“We got into a firefight, and I got shot and I got [evacuated], and while in the emergency room another [helicopter] came in and they brought in Ross and he was on the bed, two beds down from me,” Curb said via telephone Monday from a hospital in Germany. “He got shot in the head and due to the nature of the wound, there was nothing the docs could do about it. He wasn’t conscious, and he wasn’t in any pain.”
Curb said two other Marines were hurt in the attack — one Marine was wounded by shrapnel after stepping on an anti-personnel pressure plate, and another Marine was injured by the concussion from that blast.
Curb described violence in southern Afghanistan that’s become more frequent as Marines established patrol bases and started “pushing out.”
“The first few months it was nothing, but whenever we moved down and established a patrol base, we started getting in firefights every single day,” Curb said. “We patrol every day. We leave from the patrol base — we live there, and we push out patrols every day.”
Ross was deployed to Afghanistan in October after being promoted to the rank of lance corporal in September, according to 2nd Lt. Timothy Irish. Deployment for most battalions lasts seven to eight months.
Sgt. Michael Cahill at the Marine Corps recruiting station in Gillette said Ross didn’t hesitate to enlist in July 2008 after graduating from Campbell County High School.
“He was a good recruit. He did everything you ever asked of him, and he was always there to help out others. He was a good, solid young man,” Cahill said. “From what I understand, as soon as he was able, he enlisted. He only wanted to be in the infantry.”
Ross was an assaultman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, according to a Marine Corps release.
Curb said Ross was a highly motivated Marine who was extremely proficient at his job.
“When it came to being a Marine, he was all about doing the right thing, one of the most motivated guys I met about going to war. He wanted nothing more than to go fight for his country,” Curb said. “He’s always got praise for being an excellent Marine, being a SAW gunner. One of the greatest SAW gunners in our platoon. His actions were so aggressive, and he’s always in the right place at the right time, always gets effective fire. He was good at everything I’ve seen him do. He was a great guy. I loved him.”
Friend Miles Fortner said he and Ross used to hunt, hike, camp and canoe together after meeting on a middle-school bus in Gillette years ago.
“He neighbored us, so we would meet on our property — we had a couple hundred acres — and shoot rabbits and skunks and fox and whatever we could rustle up,” Fortner said. “We got to doing that regularly, three, four, five times a week some weeks and really developed an amazingly tight friendship through all that.”
Ross is survived by his wife, Brittney. Fortner said Ross married his wife just before his deployment to Afghanistan. Fortner said that when Ross called him from a satellite phone a few weeks ago, Ross said he was glad he married at a young age.
“He said, ‘You know, Miles, I want to let you know that getting married at 19 is one of the best things I did.’ He has a super amazing wife, and a couple of the goals and accomplishments that he made was to be in the Marines, be a Marine, serve his country, and get married,” Fortner said.
Fortner said he will speak at Ross’ funeral later this week. Funeral arrangements haven’t been finalized. Ross’ remains are scheduled to return to Wyoming later this week.
I met Jake and his father five years ago in May.
We shared camp and talked into the late hours about all of the things that are discussed around campfires.
I was fortunate enough over the next few years to have several other opportunities to do so again with the Ross family.
Jake was a superlative young man — intelligent, modest, funny, kind, and decent.
He will be missed greatly by all whose lives he touched.
Please say a prayer for his family, his widow, and his friends.