CAMP DELARAM II, HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
With our nation at war, young men and women have constantly answered the call to bear arms and protect the nation’s way of life. With every war come casualties. On June 16, Cpl. Jeffrey Standfest was counted among many of America’s fallen warriors.
During a post assessment of an improvised explosive device blast, Standfest, an engineer and military working dog handler, was killed by the blast of a second IED.
Unlike many enlisted Marines, Standfest didn’t go to boot camp directly following his graduation from Saint Clair High School in St. Clair, Mich. Recognized as a dominant runner, Standfest enrolled at Oakland University in 2005 and competed as a cross-country runner. Not long after, Standfest made the decision to become a U.S. Marine, inspired by his grandfather, who served in WWII.
Upon completion of recruit training in 2005, Standfest attended Marine Corps Engineer School at Courthouse Bay aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. Graduating as a combat engineer, he received orders to 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. He was soon assigned to Company A.
According to Capt. Brady Petrillo, Company A commander, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Standfest constantly demonstrated a high level of maturity.
“He was smart, articulate; he had life experiences as well,” said Petrillo. “He brought a lot to the table.”
Because of his constant demonstration of maturity and leadership, Standfest was selected to become one of the unit’s few dog handlers, specializing in ordinance detection.
“It was mostly because of his abilities,” said Petrillo. “He was one of the top go-getters in this company.”
Company A deployed in April to Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Since April, Standfest has been operating alongside fellow engineers as a dog handler, detecting IEDs and assisting the route clearance platoon, clearing routes for future convoys.
During an operation in June, Standfest was attempting to clear a building when a secondary IED was set off, killing him. The memories he left behind have left an impression on the company that will never be forgotten.
Company A held a memorial service to honor Cpl. Standfest and his service in this war. Marines and sailors throughout Camp Delaram II were in attendance, as well as Marines throughout the area of operation, to include Brig. Gen. Joseph Osterman, 1st Marine Division (FWD) commanding general.
“This memorial was a time to help Marines cope with and mourn together over the loss of Jeffrey,” said 1st Sgt. Matthew Fortune, Company A first sergeant. “Jeffrey was considered to be a brother to us all, and we all knew him and grew close to him. We will never forget the sacrifice he gave for our country.”