PAULDING, GA, USA
PFC, G CO, 2D BN 2D MAR, (RCT-7, MEB-A FWD) 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC
HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN 02/15/2010
Cindy Sharpe was about to board a plane for a return trip to Atlanta when her phone rang and she learned about the death of her neighbor Jason Estopinal. She’d been on a field trip with students who belonged to the history club at East Paulding High in Dallas. They’d visited Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Recently, three boys from Mrs. Sharpe’s neighborhood had joined the military. One of them was Jason Estopinal, a 2007 graduate of East Paulding High. The Sharpes have lived a few doors down from Mr. Estopinal since he was six. She watched him grow up, a low-key kid who shunned mischief, who was called JJ by most everybody, even though he disliked it.
“He was quiet,” Mrs. Sharpe said, “and fun to be around.”
After high school, Mr. Estopinal worked briefly for the Cobb County Parks and Recreation Department. He mowed and maintained ball fields and cleaned facilities. Then, in 2008, he and his best friend, Mitchell Gard, joined the Marines.
Mr. Estopinal left for boot camp in January 2009 and deployed to Afghanistan in December of that year.
“He loved the Marine Corps. That was evident,” said Capt. Michael McFarland, a family spokesman. “His family have nothing bad to say about the U.S. government and were 100 percent behind his decision. Of course, the family and friends believe it was the most honorable thing you could do. Or die for.”
On Feb. 15, Pfc. Jason Hill Estopinal was killed in the Helmand province, site of a major offensive against the Taliban mounted by U.S. and Afghan forces. He was 21.
Mr. Estopinal was born in New Orleans. He graduated from East Paulding High in 2007, where he played soccer. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
In a recent article, his father, Jason Parker Paul Estopinal of Dallas, said the death of his eldest son was hard to believe.
Still, “we’re accepting it,” he said at the time, “but it’s not something we were expecting.”
On Feb. 15, the day of the fallen soldier’s death, Mrs. Sharpe’s family called to relay the news.
“I was devastated,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine that happening to one of ours.”
Additional survivors include his mother, Claire Hill Estopinal and a brother, Parker Paul Estopinal; both of Dallas; grandparents, Barbara and Fernando Estopinal of New Orleans; and Jeanne Sanson Hill of Birmingham, Ala.