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Jesse D Tillery

Jesse D. Tillery and Tyler Hamel spent hours growing up playing Little League baseball and spending hours at Tillery”s house playing with military figurines. “He had a great imagination,” Hamel said. “He was just an all-around great guy. He could be one of the best friends any person could have.” Tillery, 19, of Vesper, Wis. was killed Dec. 2 during combat in Anbar province. He was a 2005 high school graduate and was assigned to Camp Lejeune. Friends said Tillery was fascinated with the military from childhood and had two brothers serving with the Army _ one also on active duty in Iraq and the other a veteran of two tours there.

Tillery was remembered for his love of reading and video games. He was a polite, conscientious youth who Hamel”s father, Dave Hamel, hired to help plant trees and bale hay on his farm. “He was very respectful, very polite,” Dave Hamel said. “He called me Mr. Hamel. He was really very polite compared to a lot of kids his age.” Said his father, Martin: “He was very well liked. Anybody who knew Jesse liked him.” He also is survived by his mother, Kathy.

A Wisconsin Marine killed in Iraq was fascinated with the military as a youngster growing up in rural Wood County, a friend says.

Lance Cpl. Jesse D. Tillery, 19, of Vesper, died Saturday from wounds received during combat in Al Anbar province, the Pentagon said in a statement Monday.

Tillery graduated from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids, about 100 miles north of Madison, in 2005, Principal Gus Mancuso said, declining further comment until today.

Tyler Hamel, 19, who also graduated from Lincoln in 2005 and now attends UW-Eau Claire, said he and Tillery were best friends from the second to sixth grades before losing touch somewhat in later years.

“I just knew that he was a great guy once you got to know him,” he said.

In their grade school years, “most of the time we always played like war games that he made up,” Hamel said. “He had a lot of war action figurines and ships and stuff. He’d always have this imagination and made up new games.

“It was his dream to go in the military,” he said.

Tillery was assigned to the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Edwards, a spokesman at Camp Lejeune, said Tillery joined the Marines in August 2005 and was a crewman on an amphibious assault vehicle.

Tillery, who was single, joined the 2nd Battalion in February and was deployed to Iraq in September, Edwards said.

“His unit is working in conjunction with Iraqi forces,” Edwards said.

Tyler Hamel’s father, Dave Hamel of Wisconsin Rapids, remembered Tillery as the polite, conscientious youth he hired to help plant some trees and do haying on his farm when Tillery was just entering high school. He talked to Tillery again later when he was about to graduate.

“He told me he was going to the Marines. I never really asked him why. I was just surprised. He wasn’t a real physical guy,” Hamel said. “He was tall and skinny.”

Tillery, whose father is a truck driver, was “kind of quiet” but really polite, Hamel said. “He called me Mr. Hamel.’ He was really very polite compared to a lot of kids his age.”

Tillery is the 63rd Marine or soldier from Wisconsin to die in Iraq since U.S. troops invaded the country in March 2003 to topple President Saddam Hussein.

As of Sunday, at least 2,897 members of the U.S. military have died in the fighting, according to an Associated Press count.

Lance Corporal Tillery was from Vesper, Wisconsin and the youngest of four children. As a youth he played little league baseball. But as he grew, he took his joy in life from the simple things in life, like his friends and family. Jesse was polite, engaging and always had a smile on his face. He liked reading, camping, traveling, and video games. Jesse is remembered as someone who abundantly possessed three things during his life: tremendous contentment, commitment and hope.

He graduated from Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids in June 2005 and joined the Marines in August 2005. He was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd United States Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He joined the 2nd Battalion in February and was deployed to Iraq in September.

He is survived by his parents, Martin and Kathleen (Usherwood) Tillery; two brothers, Army Specialist James (Ashley) of Fort Riley, Kansas, Army Specialist Jared in Iraq (fiancee Mary Dague of Fort Lewis, Washington); one sister, Joelle (Ryan) Mayers of Richmond, Virginia; one nephew, Liam Tanner Mayers; and his maternal grandfather, John Usherwood of Emily, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his maternal grandmother, Gladys Usherwood, and his paternal grandparents, Charles and Velma Tillery. Jesse’s brother James served two tours of duty in Iraq. Jesse was awarded the Purple Heart, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal as well as the National Defense Medal. He will be honored with a memorial at the High Ground Veteran’s Memorial in Neillsville, Wisconsin.

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Age: 19
Incident Location: Anbar province, Iraq
Branch: Marines
Rank: Lance Cpl.
Unit: 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force
Units Base: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina