South Valley Soldier killed in combat
TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Department of Defense said 20-year-old Private First Class Douglas Jeffries, Jr. of Springville died Thursday in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Pfc. Jeffries was serving in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Jeffries graduated from Porterville High School in 2009, his former classmates told Action News they were surprised to hear he wanted to join the army. But, now they're extremely proud of the legacy he leaves behind.
Friends said Jeffries always made others laugh, though he never tried to be the center of attention.
"I know friends who talked to him just on Tuesday and he was doing fine then... it just happens in an instant," said long-time friend Carl Bushnell.
The DoD said the young soldier died Thursday when enemy forces hit his unit with an improvised explosive device.
"He absolutely loved what he was doing... he, basically, like I said went out with his boots on," said friend Casey Bastian.
Jeffries was an active member in the FFA at Porterville High, a student Ag and leadership group.
Bushnell, other friends and a former FFA advisor met Friday at the school's football game to console one another and to reminisce.
"Knowing him for that long, it's real hard to lose somebody like that you know," Bushnell said.
Just before the Panther football team took the field, fans and players held a moment of silence to honor Jeffries' sacrifice.
"It's kind of one of those bitter sweet things," said former FFA Advisor Todd Coons. "I'm real proud of what he did and how he served and the choices he made. But then real sad."
Jeffries' sister is a freshman at the high school and many of the current students grew up with him in Springville.
Friends told Action News Jeffries was deployed to Afghanistan in March. He recently proposed to his girlfriend while on a two week leave from his deployment.
Jeffries was set to receive the American FFA degree later this month, that's the highest level of recognition for members.
Friends also said there are three other recent Porterville High graduates deployed overseas.
south valley, springville, local, rick montanez
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