|Birth: ||Nov. 4, 1981|
|Death: ||Dec. 12, 2004|
Hawaii-based Marine Lance Cpl. Jeffery S. Blanton had been recuperating from a gunshot wound to the foot in an Iraqi field hospital when he was given the OK Friday to return to active duty.
Two days later, the 23-year-old was killed, becoming the 50th person with Hawaii ties to die in the Middle East since the start of the Iraq war. "When he got shot the first time, I was already worried. He's my only child. We were so very close," said Tracie Botts, 40, of Marietta, Ga. She spoke to her son for the last time Friday.
"He told me he was not all the way healed," she said. "I don't believe he had any business being sent out there."
Blanton, of Fayetteville, Ga., died as a result of enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, according to a Marine press release. He was one of eight Marines killed Sunday in two incidents in Al Anbar, seven of whom were with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.
His stepmother, Donna Blanton, said she was told he was involved in a sweep of buildings and told to clear out any kind of fire when he was shot with a small firearm.
Blanton was married Feb. 29 on a beach in Kaneohe. He served with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and was deployed in August from Marine Corps Base Hawaii.
His wife whom he married Feb. 29, 2004, Amber Boyd, a 20-year-old Army paralegal whom he met in Hawaii and who is now stationed in Afghanistan, was en route to Georgia yesterday to bury her husband.
During Botts' phone call with her son Friday, she asked if he was scared. "He said, 'No, mama. Marines aren't supposed to be scared,'" Botts said. "I said, 'Before you were a Marine, you were my little boy.'" "He said, 'If I die here, that's what I'm supposed to do.' I was so proud of him that he was a man. But when I found out Jeffery was gone ... I don't even remember yesterday."
His family remembers Blanton as the clown, always laughing and joking. "He was always trying to make everybody laugh," said his father, Steve Blanton.
He also participated in track, football and baseball, was in ROTC and won math awards in high school.
Blanton loved Hawaii, and would call to say he was on the beach in 85-degree weather, Donna Blanton said.
Blanton lived his father's dream of being a Marine.
"When I was old enough, I was raising Jeffery," said the elder Blanton, who had his son at age 18. "I talked him into the Marines. I would live my dream through his being a Marine.
"It's something I always wanted to do, and he fulfilled both of our dreams," he said. "I couldn't be no more prouder of him than if I had a grandchild."
Blanton said he has no regrets about encouraging his son to enlist, because it allowed him to travel and experience and enjoy life.
"All he talked about was the Marines, how much it made him happy," his father said. The younger Blanton planned to become a drill sergeant and make the Marines his career.
Blanton's maternal grandmother said two Marines arrived at her doorstep at 7 p.m. Sunday and informed her of his death. "It was the most horrible, horrible day of my life," said Elaine Lovett. "I just totally fell apart."
Although she's tried to be positive, Lovett said she hates the war. "
Blanton has been recommended for the Purple Heart, and has already been awarded the National Defense Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
He enlisted in March 2002 and attended the School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune, N.C., from June to November 2002. He trained as an anti-tank assaultman.
Marietta National Cemetery
Maintained by: Dianne Wood
Originally Created by: Mz Fish
Record added: May 30, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11059841