William H Jefferson Jr
March 22, 2008
Killed near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan, when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device.
|Tech. Sgt. William H. Jefferson of Norfolk, Virginia graduated from Lake Taylor High School in 1991 where he was a member of the track and swim teams. He attended Embry-Riddle University and earned his BS in Professional Aeronautics in 2004 and was working on his Masters degree. Will join the Marine Corps where he spent four years. He had been making a career of the military and that eventually brought him into the Air Force. The decision to trade in one uniform for the other came after he married his high school sweetheart. He realized that in the Marine Corps, he was gone way too much. William and his wife have an eight-year-old daughter and his wife is due to give birth to a second daughter in two months. He served in the Air Force 12 years and planned to stay to retirement and wanted to teach high school English or history after he retired from the military. Everybody seem to love him. He had a great sense of humor and at times was just a big kid. He enjoyed playing Texas hold'em poker and video games. William died near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device at age 34. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Air Force Combat Action Medal.|
|Norfolk airman killed in Afghanistan always wanted to serve
While others finish high school unsure of their futures, William H. Jefferson had no doubts as he graduated from Norfolk’s Lake Taylor High School in 1991.
He had already selected his life’s path and planned to march down it in a Marine Corps uniform, said his sister, Tammy Davis, 37, of Virginia Beach.
And he did, making a career of the military that eventually brought him into the Air Force.
On Saturday, he was serving in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device. The Pentagon announced Sunday that the 34-year-old technical sergeant died from wounds suffered in that blast, near Sperwan Ghar.
“The whole draw was to serve his country,” Davis said Sunday night. “For the last two years of high school, he knew he wanted to go in the service.”
Jefferson was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron based at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.
He was on his third tour in that part of the world, his sister said.
In e-mails home during his deployments, Jefferson had said he could see improvement over time.
“He talked about the differences he saw,” Davis said, “that everyone was making things better. He definitely believed that he should be there and that the U.S. was doing the right thing. He fully supported it 100 percent.”
He was to have returned stateside in 30 days, Davis said.
Jefferson had settled on the Marine Corps “because they said he could get into sky-diving school and scuba school,” Davis said.
He spent four years in the Corps. But even as he grew into a good warrior, he also realized he wanted to be a good husband, she said.
“He had decided he wanted to marry his high school sweetheart,” Davis said, “but he realized that in the Marine Corps, he was gone way too much.”
So Jefferson traded his uniform, donning Air Force blues, determined to serve and have a family.
“He’s been in the Air Force 12 years and planned to stay to retirement,” Davis said.
He had earned his bachelor’s degree and was working toward his master’s, his sister said.
“He wanted to teach high school. He was leaning toward history or government.”
She said he had settled on that as his next profession “because he thought that kids at that age need direction to pick the right path.”
Jefferson “just thought he could help kids,” she said.
He and his wife Kristy – his high school sweetheart, from Virginia Beach – would have marked their 15th anniversary in May.
Their second child, a daughter to be named Natalie, is due in May. Their daughter, Tyler, turned 8 two weeks ago, Davis said.
The family has been living in Fayetteville, N.C.
Lt. Col. Thaddeus Allen, 21st Special Tactics Squadron Commander, speaks during the memorial ceremony for Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., 21st STS, at Hangar 4 on Pope Air Force Base March 26. Sergeant Jefferson died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom March 22.
Jefferson’s parents live in Hampton Roads, in Norfolk.
“Everybody loved him,” Davis said. “It didn’t matter who he met, he just attracted people. He had a great sense of humor, just a big kid.”
She said the family also has learned he was respected. They have spoken with other men in his unit who said he was “a mentor, a great leader.”
When asked if there was anything she wanted to add about her brother, Davis’ voice grew stronger.
“Just tell people how proud we are of him,” Davis said.
“He was doing his job. He was doing what he thought was right,” she said.
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