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Marine Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Ross

Died March 24, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

19, of Gillette, Wyo.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died March 24, while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Marine from Gillette killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

GILLETTE, Wyo. — A Marine from Gillette has been killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense confirmed Monday.

Lance Cpl. Jacob A. Ross, 19, died Wednesday in Helmand province, military officials said Monday.

He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Ross’ uncle, Steve Sundermeyer, told the Gillette News-Record that Ross’ deployment was supposed to end in May. Ross’ survivors include his wife, sister and brother who is in high school but also plans to join the Marines, Sundermeyer said.

Ross’ father also had joined the Marines.

Ross played soccer and also swam at Campbell County High School.

He started working as a carpenter for Shober Builders as a teen and also was a state champion in the Skills USA carpentry competition.

“We sure thought a lot of him,” said his boss, Mick Shober. “I would give him a job back in a heartbeat.”

Shober’s eyes welled with tears as he talked about his former employee. He said he admired Ross’ sacrifice.

“It’s the sad part of war, but you can’t let the rest of the world stomp you down.”

Those who knew Ross said he was quiet, polite, intelligent, hardworking and kindhearted.

Friend Miles Fortner, 21, said Ross enjoyed hunting, fishing, hiking and camping.

In 2008, the two decided to canoe the Belle Fourche River. They began paddling near Hulett and continued for more than 100 miles to Belle Fourche, S.D. During their journey, an oar broke and they lost a couple bottles of water.

“It just added to the adventure,” Fortner said.

The two kept in touch after high school, and last month Ross called him from a satellite phone. They chatted about Afghanistan.

“He said he was having a great time over there, doing what he wanted to do and wouldn’t take it back for nothing,” Fortner said.

Marine was ‘was absolutely fearless’

The Associated Press

One of Jacob Ross’ friends said the 19-year-old Marine was “fearless.” Another friend said he had a “backbone like an iron rod.”

Once, while on a winter camping trip, the Wyoming native took to a nearyby hill with his skis, said friend Dave Jones. Earlier that day, he had been huddled in a tent with Jones’ children watching snow fall.

“Jake was absolutely fearless,” Jones said. “That was just Jake.”

Friend Miles Fortner remembered Ross as a boy who stood up for his beliefs and readily defended others. “Ever since I met Jake, he’s always wanted to be a Marine,” Fortner said. “He was bent one way, that was the Marine way. ... He had a backbone like an iron rod.”

Fortner added that he thought Ross was quick to forgive and always treated others with respect.

Ross, of Gillette, Wyo, died March 24 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune.

“A hero is somebody that loves. ... Eventually if you love deeply and long enough, you will die for that,” said family friend Kenneth Royce. “There are funerals not happening today because of Lance Cpl. Jake Ross.”

Ross graduated from Campbell County High School in northeastern Wyoming.

Family members said he was on his final mission of a deployment that was scheduled to end in May.

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