What may have been a clerical error within the U.S. Military appears to have mistakenly tied a U.S. Marine killed over the weekend with the Calvert County town of North Beach. The possible error, however, has prompted the bayside town’s officials to offer a public salute to all six victims of a Jan. 19 helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
The U.S. Department of Defense identified one of the Marines killed as Cpl. Jesse W. Stites age 23. Department officials stated that Stites was from North Beach, MD. However, 1st Lt. Dianne Olson of the department’s public information office said Monday, Jan. 23 that members of Stites’ family have indicated he was born and raised in Palatka, FL.
THE BAYNET contacted the North Beach Town Hall and confirmed there is no one named Jesse W. Stites registered on the property tax rolls. One town official stated North Beach does have numerous property renters with military ties but the municipality only keeps records on property owners in its data base.
Furthermore, a poster on the Town of North Beach Facebook page confirmed there is a small town in Florida also named North Beach.
According to the Defense Department, the six crew members who died when their CH53D Sea Stallion helicopter crashed in Afghanistan were based in Kaneohe Bay, HI and had been deployed to the Middle East last August for a seven month tour of duty as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. The squadron known as “The Red Lions” was due back in the U.S. in early March.
Stites, who was married, had received several awards and medals.
“Regardless of where Cpl. Stites was from, the Town of North Beach thanks him and the other five Marines for serving our country and making the ultimate sacrifice,” Town of North Beach, MD officials posted on Facebook.