Jesse Stites

Cpl. Jesse Stites

Interlachen, Fl

Cpl. Jesse Stites, 23, died Thursday, January 19, 2012 proudly serving in the United States Marine Corps when the helicopter in which he was riding in crashed in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Private funeral services were held.

Jesse Wade Stites was born March 8, 1988 to John and Carol Stites. He grew up and attended school in Interlachen, Florida graduating high school in 2006. After graduation Jesse enlisted in the United States Marines Corps on January 14, 2008.

On October 11, 2008 Jesse was united in marriage to Kristin Schwalenberg. The couple has proudly continued to serve their country. Jesse was serving his 2nd deployment to Afghanistan, and was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He was a CH-53D crew chief who had been with the "Red Lions" since March of 2009.

Jesse has earned many awards while serving; three Air Medals, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism, Service Medal, NATO ISAF Medal, Expert Pistol, and Expert Rifle. He was part of the Lucky Red Lions helicopter squadron HMH-363. Jesse's unit was set to return home in March of 2012. Their mission is to provide assault support, transport Marines and critical supplies, as well as equipment during expeditionary operations.

When Jesse had free time he enjoyed going to the beach, working out, and playing Call of Duty on xbox. His ambitions and dreams were to take a three month vacation with his wife to Europe, move to Fullerton, California, and begin a family while owning a pub and finishing his bachelor's degree.

Survivors include his wife, Kristin; mother, Carol "Ski" Stites; siblings, Angel Borgers, Donna Naterelli, and Shaun Tullar; and grandmother, Carol Lamere. He was preceded in death by his father, John Stites; and grandparents.

Published in Des Moines Register on Feb. 5, 2012