Thursday, September 08, 2011

Army Pfc. Douglas J. Jeffries Jr.

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Douglas J. Jeffries Jr., 20, of Springville, Calif.

Pfc. Jeffries was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died Sept. 8, 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Also killed was Spc. Koran P. Contreras.

Jeffries is survived by his father and mom, Doug and Andrea Jeffries, his sister Jessica, and fiancee Tiffany Stanford, all of Springville. He is also survived by his mother, Evelyn McLeod, sister Jamie Viray and her husband Paul, brother Joseph Averman, and several nephews — Dylan and Kaleb Viray, and Taylor and Joseph Jr. Averman, all of Las Vegas. Grandparents include Stephen and Vanola Jeffries of Springville, Donna Jeffries of Clearlake, and Helen Dinning of Las Vegas.

As a child, DJ, as the family called Doug Jeffries, loved to play his guitar, and ride his bicycles and motorcycles, said his father, Doug Jeffries.

“He loved life. He lived his life,” Jeffries said.

His mom added that her son was “real funny” and loved to laugh.

“He got his sense of humor from his mom,” Jeffries said. “Everyone who knew DJ knew that his family — and his country — were the most important things to him, and that he was funny.”

Doug Jeffries parents also shared that they learned that their son carried a full-size American flag in his pack in Afghanistan, proof of his pride and love of his country, they said.

But there were many other wonderful qualities in the young soldier.

“How many 18 year olds do you know who register to vote on their 18th birthday?” his mom asked.

For hours, family and friends have gathered at the home to share stories, Jeffries said.

They weren’t the only ones. Earlier in the day, the associated student body at Porterville High School honored Jeffries with a short memorial that included a few words by his former teacher Todd Coons, a moment of silence, taps played on trumpet by PHS band director Jim Kusserow, and the release of dozens of red and blue balloons attached to small pieces of colored construction paper that read “Thank you for your service, Doug Jeffries” and “Once a Panther - Always a Panther.”

“This is a truibute for all he has done for Porterville and our country,” said Makayla Reed, ASB public relations. “He was a student here and really involved with the ag program. We just wanted to honor him.”

It is a sentiment that has been expressed again and again throughout the small mountain community where flags are flying at half staff in honor of Pfc. Jeffries.

“The amount of outpouring and emotion from the community has been overwhelming,” Jeffries said. “We’ll never leave Springville. We’ll never move out of this house.”

Army Pfc. Douglas J. Jeffries Jr. was killed in action on 9/8/11.

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