Images courtesy: 1st Marine Logistics Group Public Affairs
Sunday at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, several weeping Marines reached out to the inverted rifle symbolizing the sacrifice of Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Eastman. While accepting that their friend was gone, many longed to shake his hand one last time and say thanks. The bravery Gunnery Sgt. Eastman displayed on the battlefield as an explosive ordnance disposal technician saved the lives of many fellow Marines.
Born in Moose Pass, Alaska, Eastman joined the Marines after graduating high school in 2000. The nation went to war shortly after his enlistment, leading to combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite having one of the world's most dangerous jobs, disarming bombs with the 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), all indications are that Eastman embraced his duty.
"He worked hard for the opportunity to sacrifice his life in order to save many lives," an obituary said. "He gave up the pursuit of wealth, the leisure and comforts of American life, the blessings of family life, and the freedom to pursue his own selfish ambitions, so that he could serve us!"
While deployed to Afghanistan, the Marine undoubtedly missed his wife and four-year-old daughter, who live in California, as well as his mother in Alaska. According to the Pentagon, Eastman was killed on July 18 in Helmand province while supporting combat operations. Family members said "Chris passed away while attempting to disarm an IED that was detonated by insurgents while he was working on it."
As fellow Marines mourned at Camp Leatherneck, police, firefighters, and citizens lined the streets of Murietta, California, where Eastman and his wife had recently purchased a home. According to The Press-Enterprise, the city saluted the fallen Marine on Wednesday as flags flew at half-staff, on orders of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Reporter Sarah Burge covered Eastman's memorial.
"His service was a blessing to the Marine Corps and our nation, and with a heavy heart we extend our condolences to his friends, family and fellow Marines," said 2nd Lt. Rebecca Burgess, a public affairs officer with the Marines.
Many U.S. service members, as well as Afghan and Iraqi civilians, are alive because Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Eastman disabled improvised explosive devices that could have killed them. His grieving widow will soon welcome the couple's second daughter into the world, who will add to the fallen Marine's 28-year legacy of preserving and defending life. Her dad died so those around him, including people he never met, could live.