Family honors Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter

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The family of Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter provided the following tribute as an obituary for their son—Ed.

United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter, age 19, was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq, by a suicide bomber intent on killing the 33 Marines in the compound that he and another Marine, Corporal Jonathan Yale, 21, were protecting. The date was Tuesday, April 22, 2008.

Jordan was born on July 30, 1988, in Southampton, the first son and only child of Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles of Sag Harbor. He attended school in Sag Harbor and graduated from Pierson High School along with his beloved class of 2006.

Jordan entered the Marine Corps directly after high school and attended three grueling months of recruit training at the infamous Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. While there, a highlight of his time was his qualification as “top shot” in his Alpha Company platoon, a distinction that would soon serve him well in Iraq.

As a child, Jordan was already displaying signs of his future military aspirations, always choosing to have his mom whip up his Halloween costume, visually accurate, of course, in a military theme. He had a wide circle of friends in Sag Harbor, whom he never compartmentalized into a clique, who remember him for his infectious smile, quick-witted humor with dry delivery, and his kind and gentle demeanor.

Always one to want to grab life by the horns, Jordan began taking flying lessons at East Hampton Airport in his young teenage years. At 16, he surprised his parents when he appeared after a lesson with the back of his shirt cut out—a tradition among pilots when a student has soloed the aircraft for the first time.

Now having mastered flight, Jordan soon gave that up for the more important goal of obtaining the teenage Holy Grail … his driver’s license. Once obtained, it wasn’t long before he purchased his first truck, a 1991 Toyota 4-Runner, the perfect vehicle for pursuing his passion of four-wheeling. He soon mastered the art of muddying up his truck, much to the chagrin of his Oma, knowing that if he waited three days after a rainstorm and approached a puddle on “Dirt D” at precisely 27.25 mph he could completely cover his vehicle with 1 inch of peanut butter mud. It was also at this time, ironically, that he got one of his first jobs delivering laundry for a local dry cleaners with that vehicle.

Jordan’s life was molded and shaped by many forces but none stronger than the bond of grandparent to grandchild. His goodness, compassion, humor, and zest for life were all directly linked to his close relationship with his beloved Oma Haerter and Grumpa and Gramma Lyles.The final years of Jordan’s life saw him coming of age. He began a serious love relationship and formed an unbreakable bond with Nicole Jonat, also of Sag Harbor. Many hours on the phone and innumerable text messages later, they had laid out their plans for their future in Sag Harbor. All the best qualities that Jordan possessed had become fused into the man he was, carbon into a diamond.

The moral strength he displayed and the love of his fellow Marines became apparentthat fateful morning at that lonely post in wartorn Ramadi. At the funeral home on Saturday, Jordan’s parents were told a story by the parents of another Marine who spoke of Jordan’s selfless act of heroism: Jordan had shoved their son, who was standing next to him, to the ground, and began firing on the vehicle that had breached the security corridor. The driver of the vehicle was killed, and the truck exploded, killing Jordan and Jonathan—but sparing their son and all other Marines and civilians in the compound.

Jordan was a member of the fiercely proud and storied 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, also known as “The Walking Dead.” He has been awarded the Purple Heart for his actions in Iraq, along with the Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Iraqi Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Along with his military honors, Jordan was presented with a Southampton Town Police Department Badge and a Sag Harbor Police Department Gold Badge.

Jordan is survived by his parents, Christian Haerter and JoAnn Lyles, along with his Oma Lilly Haerter of Sag Harbor, Jack and Elanore Lyles of Fort Mill, South Carolina, Nicole Jonat of Sag Harbor, and numerous uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.The family has asked that those wishing to may make a donation to: The Wounded Warrior Project; the Sag Harbor PBA; the Sag Harbor Fire Department; the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps; the Sag Harbor LVIS.

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