HELENA — Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered all flags in Montana to be flown at half-staff on Tuesday in honor of U.S. Marine Cpl. Steven Jorgenson, who was killed in an accident after returning to the U.S. from Afghanistan.
Jorgenson, 22, died May 26 when he was struck by a car after exiting a cab in New York City during Fleet Week. He was 200 yards from his ship, the USS Iwo Jima, when he was hit.
"To die on a city street after surviving in Afghanistan — it's just a strange tragedy that shouldn't have happened," his father, Chuck Jorgenson, told the Missoulian.
Cpl. Jorgenson returned home from a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan on May 26, 2010, and was stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was about to start a six-month training course learning how to detect and dismantle improvised explosive devices, and fully expected to be deployed overseas after completing it.
"He couldn't wait to sign up again, and wanted to do another tour," his father said. "The Marine Corps was his life. He was a career guy."
Chuck Jorgenson said his son was honored to be chosen to participate in Fleet Week and it was his first trip to New York City.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, on board the Iowa Jima for a ceremony, led the crew in a moment of silence just hours after the accident. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg did the same at a Fleet Week breakfast at Gracie Mansion.
"Our prayers are with him," Bloomberg said. "Somebody who was devoting his life to protecting all of us is no longer with us."
Steven Jorgenson was born in Missoula and moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, with his family just before he started first grade. His father and stepmother moved back to Missoula after Jorgenson graduated from Gregory-Portland High School in Corpus Christi.
He joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve first and enlisted in the Marine Corps two years later.
"Steven was a great kid, very outgoing, got good grades, played the sax and guitar, was in National Honor Society, took AP (advanced placement) classes so he could graduate early," his father said.
"He had a great sense of humor," his father said. "I don't know anyone who didn't like him. Even ex-girlfriends stayed friends with him."
He married Hope Martinez in October 2010 and they lived in Jacksonville, N.C. The two became friends in high school seven years ago, but didn't start dating until four years later.
"He was adventurous, very daring," Martinez-Jorgenson told the Missoulian. "He loved traveling, loved working on cars and books — he loved reading."
In addition to his wife, he is survived by his mother, Anna Morrow of Zephyr, Fla.; father and stepmother Chuck and Jo Jorgenson of Missoula, brothers Alex, Tyler and Jordan of Missoula, step-sister Vanessa Nethercott of Polson and grandparents Terrance Jorgenson of Missoula, Sharen Dow of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Paul Moomaw and Janet Allison of Missoula.
Funeral services are planned Tuesday morning at Garden City Funeral Home in Missoula. A memorial service will be held in North Carolina at a future date.