At age 18 Travis Pfister joined the Marines from Richland Washington. He graduated boot camp June 19th, 1998 from MCRD San Diego and then went on to MCT (Marine Combat Training at Camp Pendleton). After completion of combat training Travis was off to Pensacola, Florida for Naval Aircrew Candidate School. After his 6 month training there he was assigned to SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) school in Brunswick Maine. MCAS New River was his next duty station where he completed Aircrew and Mechanic training. On June 20th of 1999 Travis checked into HMM-364 flight line, unaware that his new life as a Purple Fox was about to change.
Arriving New River in August 1999 was a Marine named Jessica. Assigned to HMM-364 as the NALCOMIS analyst Jessica was kept busy tracking maintenance and total flight time of each helicopter. However, in December Jessica attended the annual Purple Fox Christmas party where she met Travis for the first time. The mechanic and the technical maintenance analyst found they had a great deal in common and married on Nov. 24th, 2001.
One year later Travis would find himself in Kuwait preparing for the invasion of Iraq. After returning stateside in 2003, Travis decided he had enough of the Marine Corps and found a mechanic job with Boeing working on CH-46's. Seemed that he was indirectly working once again with the Purple Foxes. But in 2005 he learned that his beloved squadron, the Purple Foxes were heading back to Iraq and suddenly civilian life did not seem enough. Travis wanted to go.
Jessica in the meanwhile had remained in the Marine Corps and was assigned as a recruiter. Knowing her husband wanted to re-enlist she decided to help. She put Travis' re-listment package together and sent it off to HQMC. It took them about a month to get it back to them, just 10 days before the squadron's second departure date!
Jessica told us that she catches a lot of flack for being responsible for sending her husband back to Iraq, but she was only doing what he wanted. "I am very proud of him. I have one more year left on recruiting duty, then hopefully next time I'll be out there with them "Doin' the DO."
His mother and stepfather, Lorrie and Loron Tallett, live in Kennewick; his father and stepmother, Richard and Jackie Pfister, live in Richland. Many in Pfister's family gathered Wednesday at his mother's house in Kennewick. They laughed and told stories of his childhood antics with his older brother, Josh Pfister, 29. They also talked about how he loved to fish, hunt and ski, and how he lived life to the fullest.
"On the surface, he was a very happy-go-lucky guy. But he was very aware of how people were feeling around him," said his uncle, Blaine Hulse of Pasco. "He was one of the guys that kept tabs on everybody, made sure they were motivated and happy. He carried himself with confidence and pride, and without (bravado)."
"Travis was a tough little nut," added his former Hanford High football coach, Greg Sevigny, in a phone interview. "He always had a smile on his face. And he was tenacious. He was a tough kid, but he always had a smile on his face."
As a boy, he was a regular customer at a local military surplus store, remembered his dad, Richard Pfister. "He loved all that stuff. I saw (when he was) 7 that he'd be in the service for life," said his stepmother, Jackie Pfister.
In an e-mail to his mom last week, Pfister wrote that he'd taken more than 20 people to the hospital for urgent medical care this month alone. "Things are going well, though just waiting to come home," he wrote. "I love you guys and will see you all soon."
He is remembered by the people who knew Travis best, remembering him for being the life of the party, a man dancing to music and just having fun. They also remember a man serious about being a sergeant in the United States Marines and living the Semper Fi motto every single day.
Sgt. Travis Pfister, who loved a good joke and worked for months on the perfect recipe for barbecued ribs, was due home from his third tour in Iraq next month.
Jessica is grateful for the support she has received and relates:
I just wanted to write to everyone and thank you all for your love and support that you have given to Trav and I during this difficult time. I'm trying really hard to keep up with all the e-mails but as you can imagine, it's very hard for me right now. I do appreciate everything though. My heart is broken and I lost the best husband that a girl could ever ask for, and America lost a great hero. Maybe even the best! To me he was the best, he was my everything. I have a lot of emotions running through me right now but I want you all to know that anger is not one of them. Travis was in Iraq because he believed in America, and he believed in the Corps! He saved so many of our service members lives so that they could go home to their loved ones. He was very proud of what he did and I am very proud of him! Trav is very lucky in the sense that anyone of us could die in a car accident tomorrow, but he got to die as a Hero defending his country and doing what he loved to do! As much heartbreak and sorrow that I have in me right now, I feel a little bit safer tonight knowing that my new guardian angel is a true hero, and I promise to keep Trav's memory alive! I know that not all of you can make it to Hemet for his memorial service, but for those of you who can, I would be honored if you would join me in honoring the love of my life and a true hero Sgt. Travis D. Pfister! May his memory live on forever!
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