MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Described as a “typical, all-American boy who loved his friends and family,” Cpl. Justin Lee Huff, an intelligence specialist with Brigade Service Support Group 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, was remembered during a memorial service at the South Mesa Chapel here Jan. 31.
The solemn ceremony began with a color guard marching down the aisle, the sound of their boots striking the deck dominated over the low weeps and general silence that was spread over the chapel.
“He taught me how to stay strong, how to never give up and how to love,” said his wife Rebecca, as she dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief.
Huff, a 2001 graduate of Carmel High School, Carmel, Ind., was always one of the happiest people around, living every day to the fullest, recalled his father Blaine A. Huff.
“He grew up playing street hockey with his friends every day,” his father said. “As he got older, he went out fishing with me and my father on our canoe and came along on our hunting trips.”
His grandfather, a Merchant Marine from World War II, and his father, who served in the Air Force, were among the many military men of assorted branches who inspired Huff to join the Marine Corps.
“He would always sit around and listen to our sea stories,” Huff’s father recalled. “I remember when he first decided to join the Marine Corps between his junior and senior year in high school. He said he wanted to be the first Marine in the family.”
After his chain of command approached the podium and remembered him through experiences, it was obvious to all that the first Marine in the Huff family made a fine Marine.
“He was confident, tall, athletic and well built; the kind of Marine you would put on a recruiting poster,” said Maj. Craig R. Schwetje, intelligence officer for the 1st MLG. “If a recruiting station were to put up a poster of him, that station would no doubt make mission.”
Staff Sgt. John C. Pollack, intelligence operations chief and Huff’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, described Huff’s devotion to the Corps while Huff was conducting on-the-job training under his command.
“He was like a sponge and took in every piece of knowledge with a smile,” said Pollack. “He was proud of the Corps, believed it was second to none and lived his life by the motto Semper Fidelis. We will miss his endless positiveness.”
Huff graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in 2001 and went on to graduate Organizational Automotive Mechanic School at Camp Johnson, N.C., as a diesel mechanic and was assigned to Maintenance Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group.
He first deployed with the battalion in early 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He crossed the Kuwait-Iraqi border with his unit and provided vital mechanic support to convoys in order to ensure supply lines did not falter.
“While we were in Iraq together, we played all kinds of jokes on each other,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Fitzgerald, a diesel mechanic for the Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 15. “Even blood couldn’t have made us closer. He was a brother to me.”
In August 2004, he returned to Iraq only a month after coming home. Shortly after his return, Huff reenlisted in the Marines and decided to change jobs with a move into the intelligence field.
“He exemplified every characteristic (of an outstanding) Marine,” Fitzgerald recalled through the tears glistening in his eyes. “He was the best mechanic, husband, son and friend I have ever had the privilege to meet.”
Huff’s body was found Jan. 13 in North Carolina. Navy investigators have charged Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Cooper Jackson, 22 from Boones Mill Va., with the alleged killing. He was attending school at the Navy/Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center, Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.