|From The Yakima Herald yakima-herald.com
White Swan Marine killed in Afghanistan bomb blast
by Phil Ferolito Yakima Herald-Republic
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Joe Jackson was everything a Marine stood for, his foster father, Shawn Marceau said Monday, a day after Jackson was killed in Afghanistan.
Jackson, 22, was on foot patrol early Sunday in south-central Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device detonated next to him.
He was pronounced dead about an hour later at a hospital.
On Monday, Marceau sat between two Marines at the Marine Corps Reserve office on Tahoma Avenue in Yakima. Head cast down, fists clenching at times, eyes watering, he recalled the young man he raised from the age of 12.
"(He) was my road dog," he said. "That was my best friend. I lost my best friend."
A Gila River tribal member who was mostly raised in the Yakama reservation community of White Swan, Jackson was a strong kid who would help anyone, Marceau said.
"He was a stellar Marine son," Marceau said. "He had a Midas touch -- everything he touched turned to gold."
A lance corporal with the Alpha Company 15 out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., he was among the elite, with swimming, rifle and educational scores that landed him among the top 10 percent, said 1st Sgt. Michael Lillie.
Those scores opened opportunities for him far removed from the clashes on the ground, but he chose to tote a rifle as an infantryman, Lillie said.
"He wanted to be a grunt," Marceau said.
He often volunteered to be one of the lead men on foot patrols, where there was the possibility of being struck by IEDs.
His job was to mark the trail for his fellow Marines.
Military officials said that on Sunday he was following another Marine who was carrying a mine detector on a steep slope when his foot slipped outside the detected area and a bomb exploded. He was the only one struck.
Marceau, a Blackfeet tribal member, was at his White Swan home when two Marines arrived at his door about 8:45 a.m. Sunday.
"They showed up and it was scary," he said. "If I got the word from anyone, I'd rather get it from a Marine."
Marceau, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather all served in the Marines.
At age 13 -- one year after he came to live with Marceau -- Jackson began dressing up as a Marine, Marceau recalled.
"He accepted me as his father and that's the way it came down," he said.
"He was pretty rough, really rough around the edges," he said. "I just wanted him to succeed and he did."
Marceau recalled how Jackson would always come home right after school and do chores. If something needed fixing, he fixed it.
"He just wanted to be with us," he said. "He just wanted to be home."
Jackson preferred hands-on work rather than the confines of a classroom, said his high school resource teacher, Shelly Craig.
Although he fell behind on credits, he was smarter than most realized and surprised teachers when he passed the WASL in 10th grade, she said.
Once he realized that a high school diploma was important to his service in the Marines, he focused on graduating, she said.
"If the military (hadn't been) the carrot out there for him, I don't think he would have graduated.
"He's always been very much driven to join the Marines -- that was his ultimate goal."
On graduation night, he helped a wheelchair-bound student, RJ Jim, through the walk.
"He took care of him and made sure he made it up on the stage and everything," Craig said. "He had a very compassionate heart."
Following his foster father's footsteps, Jackson joined the Marines after graduating from White Swan High School in 2009. He was deployed to Afghanistan about a month ago.
Jackson leaves behind a younger brother and sister, both foster siblings, said Marceau, who declined to identify them. Services are not expected for about two weeks.
Jackson will be greatly missed, Marceau said.
"What he did, it was a calling -- America cashed a check on my boy," he said. "Don't forget him."