Portland, Oregon, US
United States Marine Corps
LCPL, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division
Marana, US, 04/08/2000
Michele Fentriss lost her son, Lance Corporal Seth Jones, in the crash of a Marine Osprey helicopter. He was 18, the youngest person on the plane. Seth was “a wonderful kid,” Michele said. “Such a comedian. He did funny little things. That’s what we remember about him. When he was your friend, he was your friend forever.”
She’s come to the memorial service from her home in Portland, Ore., almost every year, as has Donna Harter of Florence, S.C. She and her husband Ron are “proud parents” of Corporal Kelly S. Keith, 22.
“There was a year in there I didn’t make it, and a year Donna didn’t make it,” Fentriss said.
Michele is coming again this weekend. She and Donna are “making sure things just flow, I guess, I don’t know.”
Michele spoke at the ceremony a year ago. She told the story of how, after Kelly and Seth died, Donna sent an emblem for the back of Michele’s car that read “In loving memory of Lance Corporal Seth Jones.”
One day, Michele saw a couple reading the memorial. “My nephew died in Iraq as well,” the woman said. Michele knew that. She had gone to the young man’s funeral; her family tries to attend “as many Marine Corps funerals as we can.”
Michele told the woman Seth didn’t die in Iraq; he was killed in the Osprey crash, on U.S. soil. The woman’s response took her aback.
“She made me feel his death wasn’t as significant as if he’d been killed at war,” Michele said.
Isn’t death in service to country just that, always noble, regardless of where or how it happens? “People don’t look at it like that,” Fentriss said. “That’s more obvious to me as time goes on.” When an American in the military loses life in war, “my heart goes out to their family, believe me, to lose your child. But to make others feel that your child’s sacrifice is not as meaningful as those who are killed in war ….”
For her, now, the Marana tribute “memorializes not just the boys that died in Marana, but every Marine who wasn’t killed in a war, and gets nothing.”