ELIZABETH, NJ, US
U.S. Marine Corps
LCPL, 1ST BN 11TH MAR, (RCT-2, I MEF FWD), 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA
12/05/2009, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Marine Lance Corporal Francisco R. Jackson called his family in Elizabeth on Monday to deliver a hopeful message from Afghanistan. “He said, ‘I’ll be home very soon. I want to see you,’” his cousin, Evelyn Cordoba, recalled today. “We were so happy to hear from him.” But the next day, Jackson, 24, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a combat operation in Helmand province, according to the Department of DefenseComing so soon after Jackson’s phone call from Afghanistan, the shock of his death has devastated the family, said Cordoba, 22, of Elizabeth. They had already started to make plans for Jackson’s return, expected at the end of November, she said. “Once, my family went to the Bronx Zoo and he said we were going to have to do that again when he got home,” Cordoba said. “This has been hard on everybody.”
A field artillery cannoneer, LCorporal Jackson enlisted in the Marine Corps a year ago and was on his first combat deployment. He had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and already had been awarded a Purple Heart. Francisco completed his mission October 19, 2010 while out on a dismounted patrol when he succumbed to wounds inflicted by insurgents who attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
Jackson enlisted in the Marine Corps on Oct. 13, 2009. This was his first combat deployment, the news release said. His personal service awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and Afghanistan Campaign Medal.
Jackson, who leaves behind a wife and a son, emigrated from the Dominican Republic at a young age and grew up in downtown Elizabeth, Cordoba said. He was the eldest of four children, with two sisters and one brother, she said.
“He always protected me in school, with guys,” Cordoba said.
He attended the William F. Halsey House, part of Elizabeth High School, before transferring to Union County Vocational-Technical Schools in March 2002, a district spokeswoman said.
He decided to enlist last year partly because he had plans to become an engineer, and hoped the Marines would guide him to a better life, Cordoba said. The military was also a feature of family life, she said: a grandfather served in the Dominican Republic military, Cordoba said. “He is an example,” she said. “He was an excellent Marine, friend, family member. He died as a hero.”
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the death of Lance Corporal Francisco R. Jackson of Elizabeth, NJ:
“The death of Lance Corporal Francisco Jackson is a true tragedy. He gave his life while serving our country, and Maria and I will be forever grateful for his selfless sacrifice. On behalf of all Californians, we extend our sympathies to Francisco’s loved ones during this difficult time.”