WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, VT, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, B CO, 1ST BN, 8TH MAR, (RCT-7, 1ST MAR DIV), 2D MAR DIV, CAMP LEJEUNE, NC FALLUJAH, IRAQ 11/25/2004
A 20-year-old Marine from Hartford has been killed in fighting in the Iraqi city of Fallujah.
Jeffery Holmes was killed on Thanksgiving Day.
“Part of you is gone,” said his mother, Patti Holmes. “It can’t be replaced.”
The military said that two Marines were killed by insurgents Thursday while conducting house-clearing operations in Fallujah, a former-rebel stronghold. Jeffery Scott Holmes – a 2003 Hartford High School graduate – was one of those two, Patti and Scott Holmes said the Marines told them.
In addition to his parents, Jeffery Holmes is survived by a 17-year-old brother, Cory, who attends Hartford High School.
He initially wanted to join the Air Force and fly fighter jets, his parents recalled. But, at 6-feet, 2-inches, he felt he was too tall to fly the jets, so he joined the Marines instead. Holmes had been in Iraq since June, following completion of boot camp.
“He wanted to fight for his country. He’s always believed in it,” his mother said. “He always said if he dies over there (in Iraq), he died doing what he wanted to do.”
People who knew Holmes recalled his contagious sense of humor and easygoing spirit.
“He was a good-natured guy,” said Hartford High School football coach Mike Stone, who coached him four years.
Holmes was not among his best players, he said, but he had other gifts. “He was a pretty popular kid, happy-go-lucky kid. He was one of those kids you remember.”
For a long moment, Cory Holmes thought he might skip the first day of school since his older brother Jeffery was killed in Iraq.
“I was just laying there in bed,” he said at the end of the school day Monday. He weighed whether to go to school, where he would have to face schoolmates, or to stay at home.In the end, his decision wasn’t that hard to make.
“I chose to go because I figured that’s what Jeff would have wanted,” said Holmes, a 17-year-old junior at Hartford High School.
What he found, Holmes said, was the embrace of friends who told him how sorry they were to hear about his brother’s death, but who didn’t pester him.
“It feels good to be back, just to have all the people around,” he said.
Monday was the first day of a week devoted to the memory of Lance Corporal Jeffery Holmes, when his family and friends, teachers, teammates and advisers can consider Holmes’ life and his Thanksgiving Day death at the age of 20.
His parents, Scott and Patti Holmes, took two photos, one of Holmes in his blue graduation robe and mortarboard, and one of him in his dress-blue Marine uniform. Along with his hockey jacket and football jersey and the flags of the United States, Vermont and the Marine Corps, the pictures put up in the school’s lobby this week form a shrine to Holmes. Students who stop to look can write a card or in a book that will be given to Holmes’ parents at the end of the week.
“It’s amazing how the community’s been so supportive,” Scott Holmes said.