MENIFEE, CA, U.S.A.
U.S. MARINE CORPS
SSGT, 11TH MARINE EXPEDITIONARY UNIT (MEU)
08/23/2014, MENIFEE, CA, U.S.A.
SSGT Jeffrey Reber, 29, was born February 19, 1985
SSGT Jeffrey Reber joined the Marine Corps in September 2003. He was 18 years old. He had deployed four times — twice to Iraq, once to Afghanistan, once to Yemen. He was assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The 11th MEU is a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine air-ground task force. While serving in Afghanistan Jeff received the Navy Accommodation Medal with Valor for combat heroism.
Jeff is survived by his wife, Alyssa, 2 sons, his mother, Debbie, brother, Chris and sister, Sara.
On August 12, 2014 Jeffery Reber, a 29-year-old Marine, shot himself in the head while seated in his car in a neighborhood park near his home in Menifee, CA.
He and his wife of nine years had two young children.
After his suicide, his mother, Debra Reber, tried to honor him by submitting his name for inclusion on a memorial wall at a park in Long Beach, CA, about an hour away from Menifee. But she was turned down. The private foundation that maintains the wall, Honoring Our Fallen, accepted only soldiers killed in combat.
“It hurt,” Debra Reber said. “I’m proud of what he did. He served his country honorably. He was a good Marine, and my wish was he’d be honored and be remembered.”
Debra Reber will get her wish in Indianapolis, her home since 2007. A brick bearing her son’s name will be dedicated in a small and unusual war memorial in Warren Township. The Veterans Memorial Plaza is in the front yard of Raymond Park Middle School.
She learned about the plaza after she told her story of rejection on a local TV news show. A viewer familiar with the plaza got word to her. The memorial which is about the size of a basketball court and surrounded by a bench and flag poles bearing flags of the different military branches, was the idea of Jack Hensley, a retired Western Electric employee. Mr. Hensley, 87, spent 26 years in the Army and Air Force Reserve. He helped raise the funds for the memorial plaza. He lives nearby and cares for the memorial.
He set Jeffery Reber’s brick this past week.
“I have no restrictions,” Mr. Hensley said, referring to military suicides. He said Reber is the first military suicide to be included in the memorial “that I know of.” But however he died, “I don’t think he should be excluded,” Jack Hensley said. “He served his country well.”
Jeff Reber “the kind of guy that always put others above himself,” said a fellow Marine.
Another Marine said that in Yemen, SGT Reber “was real important to two guys who thought about committing suicide over there, and they didn’t end up doing it, and to this day they claim it was because of him and how he helped them.”
The Marine Corps incident report states that SSG Reber’s death “was in the line of duty and not the result of his own misconduct.”
The brick, for which Debra Reber paid $50, is just a brick. “But it’s a way for me to make sure Jeffery is not forgotten,” she said. “And it’s something I can visit.”
The brick, which says “Jeffery Reber USMC SSGT 2003-2014,” is clear across town from where Debra Reber lives, but it’s not far as far as she is concerned.
Suicides among American soldiers have been at alarming levels since shortly after the 2001 Afghanistan invasion. The Pentagon in its most recent tabulation reported that 265 active-duty service members killed themselves in 2015, compared to 145 in 2001.
In 2014, Jeffery Reber was one of 273 soldiers to commit suicide.