Saturday, May 29, 2004

Army Pfc. Joseph A. Jeffries

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. Joseph A. Jeffries, 21, of Beaverton, Ore.

Pfc Jeffries was assigned to the 329th Psychological Operations Company, Army Reserve, Portland, Ore.; killed May 29, 2004 when his vehicle hit a land mine in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Jeffries was the first son of Oregon to die while serving in Afghanistan. He was born in Portland and graduated from Sunset High School. He joined the Army Reserve in 2002. The following year he was sent to Bosnia. When he returned, he married Betsy Fiddler - a co-worker at a day care center. At the time of his death, Betsy was expecting their first child.

Jeffries loved his wife, racing cars, basketball, skiing and had always wanted to be an "Army Guy." He raced his cars at the River City Speedway in St Helens, Oregon with his father. When his father received word of his death, he was 'covered in grease' preparing a car to race as his son's proxy.

His father said that Jeffries felt that the Afghan civilians wanted the soldiers there and were volunteering important information. "In Afghanistan, he felt we were making a difference, and he was glad he was there. And, from a father's standpont, I'm glad we had that discussion."

Joseph Jefferies was survived by his wife, Betsy, his father, Mark Jeffries, his mother, Linda Lock, sisters Heidi and Terri Jeffries, and grandparents Betty and Rick Smith.

Pictures of his service are here:

Joseph Jeffries was buried with honors at Willamette National Cemetery. At the River City Speedway, he was honored with a memorial race.

Betsy Jeffries was five months pregnant when her husband, Joseph Jeffries was killed in Afghanistan.

"Numbness, denial" are the words she used to describe her feelings when she was told her husband had been killed in action. "I still live in denial," she said. "I didn't want to believe it - still don't."

She said the Gold Star Wives helps her to cope with her loss. "I live next door to another Gold Star wife," Jefferies noted. "It's good to have her there and to be able to talk to these other women. I can go online and write how I feel, and people will tell me that I'm normal. I don't need to stress out about what stage I'm at, because all of it is normal. Knowing that I'm not weird, or wrong, it's just normal. I'm not odd for feeling or doing or anything."

Jefferies said being a member of the Gold Star Wives makes her feel sane. She advises other young widows to seek out the organization. "And find someone, especially your own age," she said. "For me being married five months is different from someone who has been married for 15 years. They grieve for something they've lost. I grieve for something that I never had and I long to have - wish I could have had."

"His main goal in life was to have a family," Jefferies said, as she fought back tears. "He just wanted to be a dad. That's all he wanted. His main goal was to provide for his children.

"After we found out that we were pregnant, he was going to switch over to active duty to finish out his five years from the reserves," she said. "After that, he was thinking about being a firefighter or a policeman."

Army Pfc. Joseph A. Jeffries was killed in action on 5/29/04.

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