COLUMBUS, OH, US
U.S. Marine Corps
SGT, 3D CEB, (I MEF FWD), 3D MAR DIV, TWENTYNINE PALMS, CA
09/04/2010, HELMAND PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN
Sergeant Jesse Michael Balthaser was killed in Afghanistan. Being a Marine was his goal which he fulfilled after graduating high school. “He was a smart kid, but he was more of a hands on kind of guy,” said his mother, Nancy Balthaser. “So the Marines was kind of a perfect fit for him at the time.” SGT Balthaser served two deployments to Iraq before going to Afghanistan. He spoke with his girlfriend Erin
McSweeney just a day earlier and she told him to be safe, and he promised he would. But the next day Balthaser stepped on a roadside bomb. “It killed him instantly,” she explained.
Sergeant Balthaser graduated from West High School. He was the only child of Rick and Nancy Balthaser.
“You just don’t believe that it’s true,” Mr. Balthaser said. “I sat there and tried to deal with it as best I could.” Balthaser loved his family, his girlfriend and his friends. Jesse had a “heck of a sense of humor and could make anyone laugh,” explained his father. “He was pretty fun to be around,” his mother added. As high school friends stopped by, they shared stories about Jesse. “We learned a lot we didn’t know,” Mrs. Balthaser said, laughing.
The Balthasers recalled that when their son returned from Iraq after his first deployment, they gathered a crowd for a home coming welcome. “We had 56 people there waiting for him,” Mrs. Balthaser said. “He loved that.”
Family friend Janet Fleming remembered SGT Balthaser as “a spunky kid who questioned authority. He really had a tender heart. He was tough, but sweet. And when he came home, I always got big hugs.
Erin McSweeney, met Jesse during high school. She is expected to give birth to their child, Reagan Michael a girl. She spoke with Sergeant Balthaser often during his time in Afghanistan. “He was the one that made it seem that it was going to be OK and was so happy to come home and have his little girl.”