OCEANSIDE, Calif. — The Defense Department said July 20 that a Marine staff noncommissioned officer was killed July 18 in Afghanistan. Gunnery Sgt. Christopher L. Eastman, 28, of Moose Pass, Alaska, died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, the Pentagon said. He was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif. He deployed to Afghanistan in April.
A Marine Corps spokesman told the Anchorage Daily News that insurgents may have detonated an improvised explosive device while Eastman, an explosives ordnance disposal technician, was working a bomb site.
Eastman and his wife, Gaby, were expecting their second child, the newspaper reported. “He gladly put his life on the line for you day in and day out without thinking twice about it,” a family friend wrote on the Eastmans’ MySpace pages in announcing his death. “Christopher was a loving husband, father, brother and son and we will miss our brother dearly and know that he is in a better place now.”
Eastman, who enlisted in 2000, also deployed to Iraq in 2008. His military awards and decorations include the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation and Certificate of Commendation.
Fallen EOD Marine ‘laid Down His Life for Others’
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — A crowd of service members, civilians and friends gathered for a memorial service July 25 to honor the life and ultimate sacrifice of Gunnery Sgt. Christopher L. Eastman, 28, of Moose Pass, Alaska, who died July 18 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province.
Eastman, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with 1st EOD Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was deployed to Afghanistan in support of International Security Assistance Force operations.
Eastman enlisted in the Marine Corps in June 1999 as a combat engineer, according to his biography. In 2006, he lateral moved into EOD and deployed to Iraq in 2008 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement, “The death of Gunnery Sergeant Christopher Eastman is a devastating loss for our country. He was a brave and selfless Marine who gave his all while serving our great nation in uniform, and we will be forever grateful for his sacrifice. On behalf of all Californians, Maria and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Christopher’s family, friends and fellow Marines.”
“He laid down his life for others,” said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Andrews, chaplain for 9th Engineer Support Battalion, to a somber audience during the memorial service.
At the end of the ceremony, the slow playing of Taps began as Marines stood solemnly at attention in honor of their fallen brother.
Marines began to make their way to the front of the room where a memorial display of combat boots and an upturned rifle was placed, with a set of Eastman’s dog tags dangling from a helmet. Marines took turns placing their hand on his helmet, heads bowing, to quietly give their final words to the Marine who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Eastman is survived by his wife, Rocio, and daughter, Joy.