GALESBURG, ILL. — Maj. Jeffrey Carl Bland, USMC, died Sept. 19, 2011, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., the result of a helicopter training accident. Jeff was born Jan. 15, 1974, and grew up in Galesburg, the son of Carl and Janet (Winslow) Bland.
He is survived by his loving wife, Heather Cook Bland, whom he married April 20, 2002, at St. Vincent DePaul Church, in Chicago, and their daughter, Aliana; his parents of Galesburg; his grandmother, Myrtle Winslow of Tulon; three sisters, Cynthia Marquith and husband Randy, and children Zac and Lindsay Marquith, of Knoxville, Ill., Christine Ross and children, Josh Bland, Matthew Young and Natalie Ross, of Galesburg, and Julie Griffin and husband James of Houston.
As a junior at the University of Illinois, Maj. Bland enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, Calif., and then reported to the School of Infantry for training as a mortarman. After his training, Lance Cpl. Bland worked toward completing his Bachelor of Science in Aviation Administration at Indiana State University, rising to the rank of corporal. In 2000, he attended Officer Candidates School and was commissioned a second lieutenant on Oct. 27, 2001. Second Lt. Bland completed Basic School in 2002 and proceeded to primary flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. First Lt. Bland completed flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator in June 2004. He was directed to report to HMLAT 303 to commence training in the AH-1W Super Cobra. In December 2004, 1st Lt. Bland was assigned to HMLA-369 and deployed with HMM-163 (REIN) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). He served as the Future Operations Officer and H-1 NATOPS Officer while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005), and Exercise Bright Star in Egypt. When he was complete with the 13th MEU, he returned to HMLA-267 and was promoted to the rank of captain. His next deployment was to Okinawa, Japan, with HMM-265 (REIN) as part of the 31st MEU from January 2007 to December 2007. During this time, Capt. Bland participated in Exercise FOAL Eagle, Exercise Ulchi Focus Lens Korea, Philippine Bilateral Exercise, and Exercise Talisman Saber, Australia. He returned to HMLA-267 from his yearlong deployment in December 2007. Capt. Bland was selected for an Individual Augment (IA) billet and deployed with the Point of Entry Transition Team in Iraq from August 2008 to February 2009. Capt. Bland returned to HMLA-267 where he remained until September 2009 when he checked into HMLAT-303.
Maj. Bland’s personal decorations include the Air Medal-Strike/Flight numeral 4, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with One Gold Star.
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