Thursday, May 27, 2010

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht, 24, of College Station, Texas

Cpl. Leicht was assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died May 27, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht, a Texas Marine, was serving his second overseas tour. His first one in 2007 lasted only a few weeks after his Humvee drove over an explosive, breaking his leg.

He almost lost that leg, but after two years in an Army hospital recovering, he successfully lobbied to return to the battlefield. Leicht had only been in Afghanistan for a few weeks when he stepped on an explosive and was instantly killed on May 27.

His older brother Jonathan Leicht says Jacob was "someone who knew he wanted to be a soldier from the moment he could speak."

It was Jacob Leicht's second overseas tour. His first one in 2007 lasted only a few weeks after his Humvee drove over an explosive, breaking his leg.

He was killed Friday by a roadside bomb while on a foot patrol, according to a report by a Fox News reporter embedded with Marine troops. Leicht had also been in Iraq, where he received a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Ribbon, awarded only to Marines who have come under enemy fire, the Los Angeles Times reported.

During that time, Jacob got married in a traditional ceremony in Kerrville. Jonathan officiated the ceremony. That was the last time the brothers ever saw each other.

KERRVILLE, Texas (AP) — The 1000th American serviceman killed in Afghanistan had already fallen once to a hidden explosive.

On Thursday, the family of Corporal Jacob Leicht was notified that he had been killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Afghanistan.

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was driving his Humvee over a bomb in Iraq that punched the dashboard radio into his face and broke his leg in two places. He spent two painful years recovering from that 2007 blast. The 24-year-old had written letters from his hospital bed begging to be put back on the front lines, and died less than a month into a desperately sought second tour.

The Texas Marine's death marks a grim milestone in the Afghanistan war. He was killed this week when he stepped on a land mine in Helmand province that ripped off his right arm.

An Associated Press tally shows Leicht is the 1,000th U.S. serviceman killed in the Afghan combat, nearly nine years after the first casualty was also a soldier from the San Antonio area.

He said he always wanted to die for his country and be remembered," said Jesse Leicht, his younger brother. "He didn't want to die having a heart attack or just being an old man. He wanted to die for something."

Cpl. Leicht's brothers told the AP the military also told the family that his death put the toll at 1,000.

When military officers went to tell Leicht's parents their adopted son had died in combat, sheriff's deputies had to help navigate them to the 130-acre family ranch tucked deep in the Texas Hill Country.

It was here that Jacob Leicht chopped thick cedar trees and hiked the rugged limestone peaks, growing up into an imposing 6-5, 200-pound Marine with a soft heart. He watched "Dora the Explorer" with his brother's children and confided to family that he was troubled by the thought of young civilians being killed in battle.

But for "Jake" Leicht, born in a Lemoore, Calif., Navy hospital, the battlefield was the destination. He threw away a college ROTC scholarship after just one semester because he feared it would lead away from the front lines.

Flags flew at half staff across the city. Near an outdoor market, a sign hung that read, "R.I.P. Cpl. Jacob Leicht," a local American hero.

"He was more clear about his calling to become a soldier than anyone I've ever met, within any field, and it was amazing to see how it all played out," Jonathan said.

Jake, who was adopted by his family from California, has three other siblings besides Jonathan. He comes from generations of military service, including two grandfathers who fought in World War II, and his father, who joined the Navy.

Marine Cpl. Jacob C. Leicht was killed in action on 5/27/10.

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