On April 22, 2008, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jordan Christian Haerter was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. At 19 years of age, Jordan was deployed to a Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia district of Ramadi, which at one point was the center of insurgency in that city. The 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines were in the process of turning over this Joint Security Station to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. Jordan, a member of the fiercely proud and storied 1st Battalion, 9th Marines also known as 'The Walking Dead', and fellow marine, Corporal Jonathan T. Yale, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, were standing guard at an Entry Control Point. At 0745, a large truck accelerated towards the Entry Control Point, careening off the protective serpentine, ignoring all signals and flares warning the driver to stop. When the truck failed to stop, Jordan and Cpl. Yale opened fire until the 2,000lb blast claimed their lives.
"I was on post the morning of the attack," said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Tupaj, a rifleman with 3rd Platoon, Police Transition Team 3, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, with a hurtful tone in his voice. "I heard the (squad automatic weapon) go off at a cyclic rate and then the detonation along with a flash. It blew me at least 3 meters from where I was standing onto the ground. Then I heard a Marine start yelling 'we got hit, we got hit.' It was hectic."
Because of the valiant effort by Jordan and Cpl. Yale, the truck bomber did not make it as far as the post they were protecting, therefore saving the 33 Marines and numerous police inside of the Joint Security Station and several civilians within proximity to the station. According to Major General John F. Kelly, “I spoke to several Iraqi police eyewitness and they all told the same story, but one more emotionally than the others. He said no sane man would have stood there directly in the path of a speeding truck firing their weapons—yet two did. His officers, some as close as ten feet initially from the Marines, fired and ran when it was obvious the truck could not be stopped—and they survived. The Marines stood their ground and stopped the truck before it detonated, and saved the lives of their buddies.” An official after-action report says the two acted without hesitation or concern for their own lives and saved the lives of 33 Marines and 21 Iraqi police inside the compound: “Recognizing the danger to their fellow Marines and partnered Iraqi police, Cpl. Yale and Lance Cpl. Haerter fearlessly gave their lives in their defense.”
Jordan and Cpl. Yale were each posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal and Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Iraqi Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon and the Navy Cross. Jordan was posthumously presented with a Southampton Town Police Department Badge and a Sag Harbor Police Department Gold Badge.
Jordan’s passion for the United States Marine Corps began far before he entered the Station for his first deployment in March of 2008. Jordan entered the Marine Corps directly after high school and in the September after High school graduation Jordan attended three grueling months of recruit training at the infamous MCRS Parris Island in Beaufort, South Carolina. During this stage of his training Jordan earned a distinction that would serve him well in Iraq, Platoon High Shooter (Weapons Qualification Badge – Expert) in his Alpha Company platoon.
Throughout Jordan’s childhood, Jordan displayed signs of his passion for the military. He would always ask his mom to create the most historically precise military Halloween costumes. His mother recalls the Halloween in which Jordan aspired to wear a Revolutionary War costume, a Redcoat from the British Army, but he would not even consider trying it on until the buttons were historically accurate, so Jordan ventured to the library to research the buttons worn on Revolutionary War uniforms. Halloween costumes aside, Jordan’s military aspirations were also sparked by his fascination with the aircraft carrier Intrepid, and the Air Force Blue Angels. Paintball wars and video warfare games were a part of Jordan’s life that he shared with friends. When Jordan returned from Marine Corps training he boasted to his friends, “Remember the equipment we used on that game… well, I do that now!”
Jordan was born on July 30th, 1988 to proud parents JoAnn Lyles and Christian Haerter in Southampton, New York. Jordan was raised in Sag Harbor, where he attended Stella Maris Pre-School, Sag Harbor Elementary School, and Pierson High School. Jordan was a part of the Pierson High School Graduating Class of 2006. Jordan’s classmates remember his infectious smile, his quick witted humor with dry delivery, his laidback views on life, his outlandish ideas and his kind and gentle demeanor.
Friends and family will recall Jordan’s independence and his willingness to bring on new challenges in his life. During his teenage years, Jordan began taking flying lessons at East Hampton Airport. At age 16 he surprised his parents when he appeared after a lesson with the back of his shirt cut out; a tradition among pilots when a student has soloed that aircraft for the first time. Once he mastered flying Jordan took his navigation skills to the ground, where he worked to obtain the teenage Holy Grail, his driver’s license. After obtaining his license he purchased his first truck, a 1991 Toyota Four Runner, the perfect mode of transportation through the hilly, rocky, bumpy and muddy “Dirt D”, Jordan’s favorite off-roading spot. Soon after he bought his first car he mastered the art of ‘mudding-up’ his truck, also known as Lil’ Mischief, much to the chagrin of his Oma, knowing that if he waited three days after a rainstorm and approached a particular puddle on Dirt D at precisely 27.25 miles per hour he could completely cover his Four Runner with 1” of peanut butter mud. Because Jordan’s truck was typically covered with mud, it was difficult to know what color it actually was. With his mud colored car, Jordan was able to deliver laundry for a local dry cleaners.
Jordan's life was molded and shaped by many forces but none stronger than the bond of grandparent to grandchild. His goodness, compassion, humor, and zest for life were all directly linked to his close relationship with his beloved Oma Haerter and Grumpa and Gramma Lyles. The life lessons that they shared with him were permanently embedded in his heart and there was no possibility that they could ever leave him.
The final years of Jordan's life saw him coming of age. He began a serious love relationship and formed an unbreakable bond with Nicole Jonat also of Sag Harbor. Many hours on the phone and innumerable text messages later they had laid out their plans for their future in Sag Harbor.
Jordan is survived by his parents, JoAnn Lyles and Christian Haerter along with his paternal Oma Lilly Haerter, all of Sag Harbor, maternal grandparents John and Eleanor Lyles of Fort Mill SC, his girlfriend Nicole Jonat of Sag Harbor, and numerous Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and Friends.
The paragraphs above tell you a few facts about Jordan’s life. If you would like to know more about Jordan’s character and substance, please explore the rest of Jordan’s website. In particular, please read the “Kind Words” section – Jordan’s character really shines in the kind words of those whose lives he touched.