Marine Lance Cp1. Jordan S. Bastean, who knew as a 15-year-old freshman that he wanted to be a Marine, was killed Sunday while serving in Afghanistan.
“I’ll tell you that I knew him for four years, and he was the son that we all wish we had,” Chief Warrant Officer Jerry Becker, the main instructor for Pekin Community High School’s JROTC program, said Monday. “He was very mature for his age. He was very responsible and respectful. I give all credit to his parents.”
Bastean, 19, was killed Sunday while “conducting combat operations in the Helmand province,” which is in the southwestern portion of the country, according to a Department of Defense news release.
Edward Bastean, Jordan’s uncle, said that from an early age his nephew wanted to be in the military. He had a second love – big trucks.
“Oh, he always loved big trucks. From the time he was a tiny baby, until this week,” he said when reached Monday evening. “Some, you would need a ladder to get up into them.”
But he was more than that, the family said in a statement.
“Jordan was gentle and humble and eager to dive in and get dirty with whatever life dealt him. His bravery will be remembered, but so will his honest smile and his keen sense of humor.”
The 2010 Pekin Community High School graduate was an assaultman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Third Battalion deployed last month to Sangin, a city in the Helmand Province said to be a Taliban stronghold. No details were available on Bastean’s death, and officials with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines Regiment could not be reached Monday evening.
Condolences and prayers were posted on Bastean’s Facebook page beginning early Monday and throughout the day. On pages for his friends, they also mourned his passing. Many changed their profile picture to a photo of Jordan to show their support.
“We are in shock. Jordan was a joy, and this tragedy has hit hard,” Edward Bastean wrote in an email. “Honestly, this news has left us numb and confused. As a family, we are trying to pull together for his mom and dad and for each other.
“Jordan would want us to unite in order to figure out how we are going to get through this together; he was always a peacemaker,” he said.
Bastean was a member of the school’s cross country team, had a blue belt in karate and also participated and eventually led the JROTC’s rifle team.
Robert Stoor, a junior at Pekin Community High School and who was in JROTC with Bastean, said the class was quiet Monday.
“No one really wanted to talk about it. Our master sergeant took it hard. It was a time of sadness in the classroom,” he said.
Becker remembers Bastean as a “very patriotic young man” and someone who knew what he wanted.
“From the time I met him, he wanted to be a U.S. Marine. We affectionately called him Jarhead because he had a haircut like a Marine,” Becker said.
But beyond the dream of being a Marine, Becker remembers Bastean as an example to the younger cadets. He volunteered to help train younger students after he graduated. He was always willing to step up to help with training, or volunteering. He put others before himself, Becker said.
The instructor was off Monday and found out about Bastean through an email alert system for faculty. The retired solider saw Bastean about two months before he deployed to Afghanistan.
“I take solace in knowing that he was well trained and ready to go, but at the same time, he was a great American. I’ll miss him dearly.”
Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @andykravetz.
Lance Cpl Bastean is the 1,819th American killed in Afghanistan