Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Jeffrey D Bisson

Vista, California

January 20, 2007

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
22 Army Spc

3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

Fort Richardson, Alaska

 Killed in Karma, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their Humvee.

From Los Angeles Times latimes.com 02/18/07:

Army Spc. Jeffrey D. Bisson, 22, Vista; among 4 killed in roadside blast
By Deborah Schoch, Times Staff Writer
February 18, 2007

After Jeffrey D. Bisson discovered how to hover in the air over his native Southern California, he never wanted to stop.

He bought the best skydiving gear, even a helmet with a camera on it. He would squeeze in every jump he could before the sun set. And he wanted those around him to dive with him.

"He would say, 'Come on, Mom, you have to do it.' And my husband would say, 'I'm not going to leave a perfectly good plane,' " said his mother, Laurie Bisson of Vista, where he grew up.

So instead he asked his new girlfriend, Rebecca, and she agreed to go sky diving with him a few days after Christmas 2005 in Eloy, Ariz. She got it.

"It's exhilarating. It's the feeling of just jumping out of the sky," said Rebecca, 19, who would marry him less than four months later. "Watching his face when I came down he said, 'You had fun!' "

Bisson did 20 jumps in three days on that trip. One of them, filmed by Rebecca, is still posted on his http://www.MySpace.com Web page. It shows him and his friends jumping off the basket of a circus-hued hot air balloon.

"Some people say I am a little on the crazy side when it comes to the stuff I do for fun," he wrote on his site, "but, hey, I like to live my life on the edge a little."

In the end, Bisson's passion for adventure and sky diving helped propel him into the Army and then to Iraq.

On Jan. 20, he was among four soldiers killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Karmah, west of Baghdad. Bisson, 22, was in Iraq on a one-year tour, serving with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.

He was among eight Ft. Richardson paratroopers who died that day in two incidents, the largest number of deaths on a single day for troops from Alaska.

His MySpace site remains on the Internet, now filled with remembrances from friends and fellow servicemen. "RIP bro!!! You were an awesome man and the platoon is missing you so much," one soldier wrote. "I pray [you're] with the angels and are watching over us."

Bisson's parents trace his passion for outdoor adventure to his years as a Boy Scout.

"They did camping and fishing, went to many summer camps. Bows and arrows, swimming, hiking, biking, high adventure," his mother said.

Starting as a Cub Scout, Bisson achieved the honor of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Scouting. In his qualifying project, he worked with a team to build a drinking fountain outside a Salvation Army building where the Scouts met every week.

His wife thinks that Bisson's Scouting background helped prompt his decision to join the Army after graduating from Rancho Buena Vista High School. He wanted to travel the world, she and his mother said.

"His high school was right diagonal from the Army recruiters. They send the recruiters over to the high school to say, 'You're graduating. What do you want to do?' " his mother said.

He already had experience at two jobs, with FedEx and Cox Construction. But he also had a son from a former relationship. "I think the pressure of being an unwed father at an early age made him want to see other places," his mother said.

The Army led him to Alaska and Rebecca. Newly arrived at Ft. Richardson and eager for friends, he discovered her MySpace site. Rebecca still has the note he left for her.

"Hey, there, how's it going?" he wrote her on Aug. 24, 2005. "I just moved here from California in June, looking to meet some cool new people."

So Rebecca met him after her college classes four days later and they went to dinner. After that, she said, they were inseparable until he left for Iraq. He wanted to go fight, she said, because he wanted to ensure that Iraqis enjoyed freedom.

They were married on 3,510-foot-high Flattop Mountain near Anchorage in the mid-April wind with snow on the ground and the temperature in the 20s.

He wore jeans, a well-pressed T-shirt and a leather jacket. She wore jeans and a blouse.

"I was born and raised here," she said from the couple's Anchorage apartment, where her husband's voice is still on the answering machine.

They watched movies at home and went out to dinner, most often at Chili's. He asked constantly for chicken teriyaki for dinner, and she always made it for him. She couldn't say no.

His mother last talked to him the Saturday before he died. "You could just hear it in his voice, that he wasn't happy, that he wanted to be home," she said.

His wife last talked to him a few days later. "The last thing he said to me was, 'Did you ever get your belly button pierced?' " she said.

She has tried to go to Chili's, the last place they ate together, but couldn't. "I walked in and turned around and walked out," she said. "It was too hard."

He died just 10 days before he was due home on leave. "He would have been here now," his wife said.

In addition to his wife and mother, Bisson is survived by his father, Richard; a brother, Christopher, 18, of Carlsbad; and a son, Andrew, 4, from a previous relationship.

From North County Times NCTimes.com 02/05/07:

Soldier laid to rest with military honors

By: SHAYNA CHABNER - Staff Writer

VISTA ---- A hushed silence overtook several hundred people as eight armed servicemen marched into North Coast Church's worship room Saturday afternoon, carrying a fallen soldier in an American-flag-draped casket at their side.

In an hour-long service at the Vista church, friends, family and fellow military men and women honored the life of 22-year-old Spc. Jeffrey D. Bisson, who died Jan. 20 while serving in Karmah, Iraq.

Bisson was a U.S. Army paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne), 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Richardson, AK. He and four other soldiers were killed when their Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb in the Anbar province.

"Here we have a man who has given his very best, and he has paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country," Army Maj. General Michael H. Sumrall said Saturday. "He didn't just join the Army, he joined the toughest part. ...That's a big deal."

One of a handful of people to speak during the service, Sumrall remembered Bisson for his courage and honor. He shared messages from Bisson's battalion commander in Iraq, who said Bisson was a leader and someone "you could always count on."

"It's an honor to work with a soldier like Jeffrey," Sumrall added.

Green military tags with Bisson's name, rank, age and date of death were given to guests as they entered the hall.

Bisson made a lasting impression on people, not only through his military service but also through his love of adventure and passion for life, family and friends said.

His father, Richard Bisson, recounted stories from his son's days in the Boy Scouts. He spoke of watching him mature into a man as he became an Eagle Scout, graduated from high school and joined the military.

Whether he was mountain biking, hiking, learning how to pitch a tent and survive in the wild, or soaring through the sky in his favorite pastime ---- skydiving ---- his son gave it his all, Richard Bisson said.

"You could see that the fire of adventure in him was quickly spreading," Richard Bisson said of his son's last scout camp and first test of living in the wilderness as a teen.

Born in Chula Vista, Bisson spent the first eight years of his life living in Carlsbad and then moved to Vista with his family. There he built lasting friendships through his involvement in sports teams, the scouts and school.

In 2003, Bisson graduated from Rancho Buena Vista High School.

"He was a great friend, the best friend a guy could have," Vista resident and childhood friend Chad Maisenbracher said. "I will always remember the wonderful smile and cheerfulness he had around his family."

The boys grew up together, participating in everything from bowling and summer camps to graduating as Eagle Scouts.

"He was full of life," Maisenbracher said, adding that the only thing that Bisson couldn't get him to do was to go sky diving.

In a picture display in the lobby and a slide show during the service, guests revisited some of Bisson's life benchmarks and shared in memories of time spent with family and friends throughout the years.

Outside, two lines of more than 60 motorcycle riders from the Patriot Guard, a group of riders that stands outside the funerals of fallen troops to pay their respects and shield families from protesters, also attended. They wore leather and carried American flags as they paid tribute to the soldier, his family and loved ones. There were no protesters at the Vista service.

Bisson's 19-year-old wife, Rebecca, spoke of the beauty of the day.

"I know he is looking down on us, smiling and getting ready to make his big jump into heaven," she said during the service. "We have wonderful blue skies today."

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