Friends remember Marine declared dead after going overboard from USS Essex
By MAX SULLIVAN | Portsmouth Herald | Published: August 21, 2018
HAMPTON, N.H. (Tribune News Service) — Cpl. Jonathan Currier, a U.S. Marine who was declared dead after going overboard from the USS Essex this month, was remembered by friends as a kind person who loved serving his country and dreamed of a career in aviation.
Justin Roberts and Ryan Saint Cyr, who graduated from high school in 2015 alongside Currier, said Currier enjoyed working as a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crew chief. They said Currier planned to pursue a career in flying, whether with the Marines or on another path.
"He loved being in the aircraft," Roberts said. "He was determined to be the best at what he did at any point in his life."
Officials say Currier went missing Aug. 9 from his ship near the Philippines. He was part of the California-based 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. His body was not found following a five-day search that covered 13,000 square miles, and the military declared him dead Friday.
The circumstances surrounding the incident are being investigated, according to a military press release.
Roberts, who said he was one of Currier's best friends, said Currier's mother and brother came to his house after Currier went missing and before his identity had been made public. Roberts, who grew up with Currier doing activities like Boy Scouts of America and flag football, said the news was devastating.
"They came in, and instantly you knew something was wrong," said Roberts. "They told us what happened, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room."
Officials say Currier enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 2015 and graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island that November. At the time of his disappearance, he was assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 and was deployed with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 166 Reinforced with the 13th MEU on the Essex. Currier's awards include the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Lt. Col. Michael Antonio, a JROTC instructor, said Currier was a strong leader as a cadet for four years in the program, always willing to help younger cadets. He also said Currier contributed to the program by building storage shelves for the JROTC building for his Eagle Scout project.
Alex Leafe was among the JROTC cadets who looked up to Currier. He described Currier as a good, dependable friend who was passionate about the Marine Corps.
"You could always go to him for everything," Leafe. "He was just the nicest guy. He was always inclusive, friends with everyone."
Antonio said it was also impressive that Currier became a corporal and crew chief in just three years.
"He loved the Marine Corps," Antonio said. "He was a kid who was committed to service and committed to serving his country."
Currier's name will be considered for engraving on American Legion Post 35's Global War on Terrorism monument located in front of the legion hall on High Street, according to Post 35 Commander Berkley Bennett. The monument honors New Hampshire servicemembers killed in the line of duty since Sept. 11, 2001.
Saint Cyr, who was in JROTC with Currier in high school, said he was at work as a kitchen manager when he got a call from Roberts telling him what happened.
"Ten, 15 minutes later, it just kind of all hit me at once," said Saint Cyr. "I had to leave."
Roberts and Saint Cyr said Currier was not only one of the kindest people they have known but also among the funniest. Roberts said he cannot remember a time with Currier where they weren't "giggling, laughing or just losing it."
Roberts said Currier's determination and perseverance showed when they played flag football together. He said Currier would always wind up catching long passes and running down the field toward the end zone.
"The guy had no fear," said Roberts. "He was a resilient one, that one."
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