News: Following in the footsteps of the fallen
Story by Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MUSA QAL'EH, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - A memorial service was held recently to honor the service of Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers.
Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers was the platoon sergeant of 3rd Platoon, Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, operating under the command of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines while in Afghanistan. Since joining the Marine Corps in 2003, Rogers served in two combat tours in Iraq and three in Afghanistan, including the current tour.
On April 7, 2011, Rogers and his platoon were performing a clearing operation to remove improvised explosive devices. He was clearing a path to a helicopter for two severely wounded Marines when he was taken from this world.
Rogers understood the dangers his job entailed and exhibited unwavering dedication to Corps and country, according to his fellow Marines. On April 27, his friends and fellow Marines gathered on Forward Operating Base Musa Qal’eh to remember a fallen hero.
A pair of boots was placed with a rifle standing vertically between them, barrel down. A Kevlar helmet crowned the stock of the rifle while Rogers’ dog tags were hung solemnly from the pistol grip. The Marine Corps Flag crossed with the American Flag, provided a backdrop for his field expedient battlefield cross. The memorial allowed others to reflect on who Rogers was, what he meant to them, and how they would miss him.
“He always looked on the brighter side of things,” said Sgt. Jarrod Alexander, a squad leader with 1st squad, Company C, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion. “He never had any discontent toward anything. He could always make any situation better, regardless of if it was bad or good.”
Marines reflected on his bright character and ability to befriend any one. They remembered his natural ability to lead Marines, especially in combat conditions. They recalled how he could be friendly to everyone, yet correct a Marine without having to raise his voice. The speakers made it very clear he was a man to be admired, and that his passing was nothing short of a tragedy to those lives he touched.
“He wasn’t one to stand around the corner or go back into a vehicle and bark orders. If he issued an order, he was right there with you. If his Marines were sweeping (for improvised explosive devices) he was right there sweeping with them,” Alexander said.
Those in attendance were given a moment to pay their respects to Rogers in their own fashion. Each attendee said goodbye one last time, allowing closure for those who had worked with him.
“I miss him, I miss him every day; I think about him every minute. Everything that he’s ever taught me is still whispering in my ear. Anytime I tell my Marines something I always think about what he would say first.”
Though he is gone, his legacy lives on through the actions of all who were fortunate enough to, in one way or another, have had him as a mentor. His spirit remains in those whose lives he has touched as they strive to follow in the footsteps of their fallen comrade.