Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Marine Obi Jessica S. Conkling June 28, 1981 - May 5, 2009. Captain Jessica S. Conkling, U.S. Marine Corps, died Tuesday, May 5, 2009, near San Diego. Captain Conkling was on a night-time training mission in a Super Cobra helicopter when it went down in the Cleveland National Forest. Conkling and fellow pilot Captain Aaron D. Cox, who was also killed, were training for an upcoming deployment. Jessica Conkling was born in State College, Pa., on June 28, 1981. She was a 1999 graduate of State College Area High School. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2001 with a B.S. degree in hotel, restaurant and institutional management. Jessica was a member of the crew team while at Penn State. She worked as a manager for Houston's Restaurants in New York City and in Phoenix, Arizona before joining the Marines. She attended Officer's Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in December 2004. After completing the Basic School in Quantico, Jessica began flight training at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida. She flew the T34C "Turbo Mentor" aircraft and the TH-57 "Sea Ranger" helicopter during the flight training program. She was promoted to first lieutenant in December 2006. In June 2007, she was awarded her Wings of Gold and was designated an unrestricted naval aviator. Jessica then reported to the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Calif., for further pilot training in the AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. Upon completion of the training, she joined Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267. In July 2008, she was deployed to Okinawa, Japan, as part of the Aviation Combat Element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Jessica was promoted to captain in January 2009 and rejoined her squadron at Camp Pendleton upon completion of the deployment. Captain Conkling's personal decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. Jessica is survived by her father, Thomas W. Conkling; her mother, Saralee Conkling; her sister, Amy L. Bennett; and her brother, Thomas S. Conkling. Captain Conkling was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on May 22, 2009. Gifts in memory of Jessica may be made to the Penn State Libraries at 510 Paterno Library, University Park, PA 16802. Donated funds will be used to purchase culinary and military books in Jessica's honor, as these were her two great passions.

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