Visalia Marine killed in Afghanistan just before troop drawdown announced

FRESNO, Calif.

22-year-old /*Jared Verbeek*/ is a /*Mount Whitney High School*/ graduate who joined the Marines in 2008.

The drawdown is coming too late for him. But without anger, his wife and father both told Action News they want to see the troops come home, and a decision to do it sooner could have saved more lives than just Jared's.

This is the last picture Lance Corporal Jared Verbeek sent to his wife, Vanessa. Weeks later, two solemn Marines visited her Visalia home.

"They came up to the door and they said, 'We're sorry to inform you that your husband, Jared Verbeek, was killed today,'" she said.

Verbeek deployed to /*Afghanistan*/ three months ago, but he kept in constant contact with his family -- including a call just two days before an improvised explosive device killed him.

"He called me Sunday for Father's Day for an hour and we were just planning all the things we were going to do when he got back," Vanessa Verbeek said. "We wanted to go to Disneyland for the little man because he's in love with Mickey Mouse."

The Marine missed one deployment to watch the birth of his 18-month-old son, Jacob, but he had to go the second time around. He was stationed in the Helmand province, the same area President Obama targeted for a troop surge in late 2009.

"We looked at the Internet and knew it was a hot spot and it wasn't a safe place to be at all," said his father, Travis Verbeek.

Jared Verbeek knew exactly the dangers he'd face as a Marine. His father was a gunnery sergeant in the Marines and at the age of seven, Jared walked around in one of his father's shrunken uniforms. His mother wasn't always on board with Jared following in his father's footsteps.

"She tried to talk him out of going and she told him, 'Don't go. You're my only son,'" Travid Verbeek said. "And he told her, 'Mom, it could be anybody's son.'"

Verbeek's mother stayed in the background and cried as his father showed Action News around Jared's room. The family shared memories of him with us Wednesday, and now they share their son with the entire country forever.

"He was a proud Marine," his father said. "We loved him. He was our son and we just hope everyone remembers the sacrifice he paid for our freedom."

Verbeek's wife and father headed to Delaware Wednesday night to be there when his body arrives at Dover Air Force Base. After that, they're planning funeral services in Visalia.

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