Norfolk airman killed in Afghanistan
always wanted to serve

While others finish high school unsure of their futures, William H. Jefferson had no doubts as he graduated from Norfolk’s Lake Taylor High School in 1991.

He had already selected his life’s path and planned to march down it in a Marine Corps uniform, said his sister, Tammy Davis, 37, of Virginia Beach.

And he did, making a career of the military that eventually brought him into the Air Force.

On Saturday, he was serving in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device.  The Pentagon announced Sunday that the 34-year-old technical sergeant died from wounds suffered in that blast, near Sperwan Ghar.

“The whole draw was to serve his country,” Davis said Sunday night. “For the last two years of high school, he knew he wanted to go in the service.”

Jefferson was assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron based at Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

He was on his third tour in that part of the world, his sister said.

In e-mails home during his deployments, Jefferson had said he could see improvement over time.

“He talked about the differences he saw,” Davis said, “that everyone was making things better. He definitely believed that he should be there and that the U.S. was doing the right thing. He fully supported it 100 percent.”

He was to have returned stateside in 30 days, Davis said.

Jefferson had settled on the Marine Corps “because they said he could get into sky-diving school and scuba school,” Davis said.

He spent four years in the Corps. But even as he grew into a good warrior, he also realized he wanted to be a good husband, she said.

“He had decided he wanted to marry his high school sweetheart,” Davis said, “but he realized that in the Marine Corps, he was gone way too much.”

So Jefferson traded his uniform, donning Air Force blues, determined to serve and have a family.

“He’s been in the Air Force 12 years and planned to stay to retirement,” Davis said.

Col. Marc Stratton, 720th Special Tactics Group Commander, speaks during the memorial ceremony for Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., 21st Special Tactics Squadron, at Hangar 4 on Pope Air Force Base March 26. Sergeant Jefferson died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom March 22.

He had earned his bachelor’s degree and was working toward his master’s, his sister said.

“He wanted to teach high school. He was leaning toward history or government.”

She said he had settled on that as his next profession “because he thought that kids at that age need direction to pick the right path.”

Jefferson “just thought he could help kids,” she said.

He and his wife Kristy – his high school sweetheart, from Virginia Beach – would have marked their 15th anniversary in May.

Their second child, a daughter to be named Natalie, is due in May. Their daughter, Tyler, turned 8 two weeks ago, Davis said.

The family has been living in Fayetteville, N.C.

Lt. Col. Thaddeus Allen, 21st Special Tactics Squadron Commander, speaks during the memorial ceremony for Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., 21st STS, at Hangar 4 on Pope Air Force Base March 26. Sergeant Jefferson died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom March 22.

Jefferson’s parents live in Hampton Roads, in Norfolk.

“Everybody loved him,” Davis said. “It didn’t matter who he met, he just attracted people. He had a great sense of humor, just a big kid.”

She said the family also has learned he was respected. They have spoken with other men in his unit who said he was “a mentor, a great leader.”

When asked if there was anything she wanted to add about her brother, Davis’ voice grew stronger.

“Just tell people how proud we are of him,” Davis said.

“He was doing his job. He was doing what he thought was right,” she said.

“He is actually the all-American boy story; two kids, white picket fence,” she said. “A true hero in every sense of the word.”

Memorial for Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr....... Mourners look on during the memorial ceremony for Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson, 21st Special Tactics Squadron, at Hangar 4 on Pope Air Force Base March 26. Sergeant Jefferson died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom March 22.

To the family of TSgt William Jefferson, Please accept my deepest sympathies. I fully understand your pain. My brother was also CCT who was KIA 3/4/02 in Afghanistan. You have so many who support and love you. Thank you for giving us William, for however short a time. Thank you for your sacrifice and I thank him for his. STS is a special family made up of very special people. God bless you. You are in my thoughts and prayers..... Lori Longfritz

                         Special Forces Soldiers Pay Tribute to Fallen Comrades

BAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan (Courtesy of CJTF-82 Public Affairs, Apr. 2, 2008) – Early Thursday morning the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan honored two fallen comrades in a memorial ceremony.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Neil and Air Force Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr. were killed in action March 22 while conducting combat operations near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan. Both men were killed when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

“Their sacrifice exemplifies all that we value in Special Operations and the armed forces,” said Lt. Col. Lynn Ashley, Special Operations Task Force commander.  The memorial took place during a bright sunny day at Bagram Airbase.  Nevertheless, there wasn’t a dry eye once members of their team honored them with remembrances.

BAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan- 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Commander Col Christopher K. Haas and CJSOTF-A Support Command Sgt. Major, Command Sgt Maj. Edward A. Bell, pay their respects to their fallen comrades Staff Sgt. William Neil, Special Forces engineer and Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr and Air Force Combat Controller, during a memorial ceremony at Bagram Airbase, March 27.  Both men died in combat March 22, 2008 while conducting combat operation near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan.

“Bill Neil and Will Jefferson were decent men they were honest, passionate, fun to be with,” said one team member. “They loved life and they loved their families.

Neil was a Special Forces soldier with C, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Fort Bragg, NC.  He was a dedicated soldier who served in both the Army and Navy.  He took a break in service to work on Wall Street but traded in his suits for a Green Beret.

Jefferson was a combat controller assigned to 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, NC.  Prior to enduring the rigors of the Combat Control School, Jefferson served as a Force Recon Marine. 

Both men distinguished themselves apart from the typical service member by volunteering for special assignments and special duties. 

“Instead of simply clamoring for peace where no peace can be had or turning a blind eye to the violence in the world.  They made peace in the world on the only terms the enemy has offered us; by running and bravely patrolling the most dangerous places in the world,” said one team mate though stifled tears.

BAGRAM AIRBASE, Afghanistan-A Special Forces Team, from Fort Bragg, pays respects to two of their fallen comrades Staff Sgt. William Neil, Special Forces engineer and Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr and Air Force Combat Controller. Both died in combat March 22, 2008 while conducting combat operation near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan. 

While Neil was a permanent member of the Special Forces team Jefferson was an attached combat controller.  He easily integrated himself into the team through exceptional duty performance on a daily basis; performing air traffic control functions, communicating with aircraft, and directing them to drop ordnance on enemy positions.  
“From the first day that Will (Jefferson) walked into our camp to our last ride together Will was and forever will be part of our team,” said the team engineer.

In addition to remembering the fallen for the lives they lived they tried to answer questions and bring comfort to each other.

“Will (Jefferson) believed in trying to teach us his job, just in case the worst should happen, he wanted his team to be prepared for anything and he made sure we were,” the engineer said. “But some things you can never prepare for.  Like hearing that you have just lost a good friend who you were joking with just 30 minutes before is impossible to prepare for.”

“His life was not a loss but a fulfillment.  A fulfillment of God’s work,” said one team member, about Neil.

“To their families those actions are merely the latest in a lifetime of devotion to others,” said Ashley. 

I was so saddened to hear that another STS was taken. My heart goes out to the family and friends and my prayers are with you all. May God give you comfort at this time and may Will rest in peace. I wrote in Legacy.Com a bit more.

Love and prayers,

Linda Crate
Mother of Casey J Crate
USAF 23rd STS Silver Team
KIA-Iraq Memorial Day 2005

          In memory of Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr.

3/26/2008 - POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., 21st Special Tactics Squadron, died March 22 near Sperwan Ghar, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sergeant Jefferson died from wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. 

He began his military career as a Marine in 1992, enlisting for four years following high school before enlisting in the Air Force in 1996.

In 1996, Sergeant Jefferson was stationed at Pope with the 21st STS after completing the Combat Control pipeline. He spent almost five years as part of silver team before moving into a highly coveted position in the Squadron's Integrated Survey Program office. 

After two years in the office as an expert surveyor, he was chosen to become an instructor at the Combat Control School at Pope. His performance there fostered a new crop of young and aspiring Airmen, which significantly contributed to the increase in number of Combat Control training graduates. 

Sergeant Jefferson returned to the 21st STS in 2006, serving in the operations staff as head of exercise and plans responsible for all Joint Force Entry Exercises. He then deployed in October 2006 in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. 

In September 2007, Sergeant Jefferson received distinguish graduate honors from the Non-Commissioned Officer Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. 

He deployed again in January 2008, this time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, as part of a unit conducting operations in Afghanistan. 

In his career, Sergeant Jefferson received the Bronze Star medal, the Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor, Air Force Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Global War on Terrorism Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

To family and friends of Will: I am truly saddened by the loss of your loved one! Will, like most service men and women, believed in the fight for freedom and the freedom of those oppressed. He is a true "hero" in my eyes. I know Will belonged to a very special group of STS warriors. I believe that he was one of my son's instructors going through the pipeline. May he rest in peace and may God give you the strength to endure your loss. That is where I found my strength.

Love and prayers to all of you,

Linda Crate
Mother of Casey Crate
USAF 23rd STS Hurlburt Field, FL.
KIA-Iraq Memorial Day 2005

Deployed Airmen Dedicate Flagpole to Fallen Comrade

1/7/2010 - AFGHANISTAN -- Being deployed this past September was a stark reminder of why we are fighting for the freedoms that we hold dear. The memories from the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001, often remind many Airmen why they joined the fight in the first place.

More than eight years have passed since that tragic day, and many people have commemorated each anniversary by going to a ceremony in remembrance of those who have fallen. It has also become a day to show our appreciation for the sacrifices that our military heroes have made in combat.

On March 22, 2008, Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., a Combat Controller with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C., made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

While reflecting on the loss of Sergeant Jefferson, two aircraft maintenance technicians from Hurlburt Field deployed to the 1st Expeditionary Special Operations Maintenance Squadron decided to memorialize their fallen Airman.

After reading Sergeant Jefferson's biography, Staff Sgt. William Miller and Staff Sgt. Derek Spencer felt compelled to commemorate his memory by constructing a flagpole in his honor at Camp Jefferson in Afghanistan.  
"We acquired a 22-foot pole from the Navy Seabees, the pulleys and clips from the Army and the rest of the materials from our unit," Sergeant Miller said.
The two craftsmen proceeded to cut, tap and weld the flagpole to its intended design. While considering the common features of other flagpoles on the installation, they said they wanted one key difference for their flagpole to stand out.

"We decided to cut open a 105mm shell casing and flatten the brass to produce a working material," Sergeant Spencer said.

Based on suggestions from their commander, Maj. Robert Bandstra, and maintenance operations officer, Capt. Cecil Johnson, they cut, hand-formed and riveted three pieces of brass together to form a three-dimensional spear-shape to be used as the top of the flagpole. The design was inspired by the spear depicted in their deployed emblem.

Finally, they used a 40mm shell casing to fit the finial to the top of the flagpole. Only two days after starting this endeavor, the flagpole and finial were presented to Lt. Col. Bryan Cannady, 21st STS commander, to be hand-carried and erected at Camp Jefferson.

However, Sergeants Miller and Spencer said they felt their job wasn't complete and that it needed something more.

"We knew our efforts were not finished and agreed that a placard was needed to complete the memorial," Sergeant Miller said.

They decided to use a 105mm shell casing for an inscription at the flagpole. Sergeant Miller removed the shells' primer and reversed it to create the base of the placard. Sergeant Spencer meticulously etched the following:

"In Memory of TSgt William H. Jefferson, Jr. KIA: 22 March 2008, Afghanistan."

At the dedication ceremony, the placard was presented to Colonel Cannady again to be hand-carried to Camp Jefferson and illuminated in front of the flagpole that immortalizes a fallen American hero.

Sergeant Jefferson, you are not forgotten.........

Will's Flagpole Moved to Cannon AFB

Honoring the fallen                                           August 22, 2014

by Airman 1st Class Chip Slack
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

“Will Jefferson was a dedicated and competent warrior, who believed deeply in the mission he was conducting,” remembers the Silver Team Leader of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron. “He adeptly showcased his skills as the consummate force multiplier on the battlefield, raining air and space power down on our nation’s enemies. His legacy is that of a family man who deeply loved his country, his job and his teammates.”

Tech. Sgt. William Jefferson Jr., a Combat Controller with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, made the ultimate sacrifice for his country March 22, 2008.

As the vast New Mexico sky began to show its first signs of daybreak, members of the 26th STS loaded into the back of a truck and made a silent trek across the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, Aug. 5. There was a noticeable buzz of emotion as the Air Commandos reached their destination: a 30 foot steel flagpole hand-delivered from Afghanistan.

On the count of three, the flagpole was hoisted onto the backs of the dedicated squadron members and, with a collective effort, they began the journey back to their hangar. This seemingly ordinary object is dedicated to Jefferson and once it reaches its final resting place, will be erected in his honor, as well as the many others who have given their lives for their country.

With each step, as the strain of the flagpole began to bear its burden, the dedicated airmen not only kept going, but they began to run, motivated by loyalty and respect for their fallen comrades.

“Today, we simply wanted to say that we won’t forget their sacrifice,” said the Silver Team Leader. “We won’t forget what they stood for, and that the families of special tactics warriors remain strong by remembering the best of us who are no longer with us.”