CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – A crowd of service members, civilians and friends gathered for a memorial service July 25 to honor the life and ultimate sacrifice of Gunnery Sgt. Christopher L. Eastman, 28, of Moose Pass, Alaska, who died July 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.
Eastman, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was deployed to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.
Eastman enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1999 as a combat engineer, according to his biography. In 2006, he lateral moved into EOD and deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement, "The death of Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Eastman is a devastating loss for our country. He was a brave and selfless Marine who gave his all while serving our great nation in uniform, and we will be forever grateful for his sacrifice. On behalf of all Californians, Maria and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Christopher’s family, friends and fellow Marines."
“He laid down his life for others,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Andrews, chaplain for 9th Engineer Support Battalion, to a somber audience during the memorial service.
At the end of the ceremony, the slow playing of Taps began as Marines stood solemnly at attention in honor of their fallen brother.
Marines began to make their way to the front of the room where a memorial display of combat boots and an upturned rifle was placed, with a set of Eastman’s dog tags dangling from a helmet. Marines took turns placing their hand on his helmet, heads bowing, to quietly give their final words to the Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Eastman is survived by his wife, Rocio, and daughter, Joy.