|Major Jeffrey Carl Bland, USMC, died 19 September 2011 at Camp Pendleton, CA, the result of a helicopter training accident.
Jeff was born on 15 January 1974 and grew up in Galesburg the son of Carl and Janet (Winslow) Bland. Jeff is survived by his loving wife Heather Cook Bland, whom he married on 20 April 2002 at St. Vincent DePaul Church in Chicago and their daughter, Aliana. He is also survived by his parents Carl and Janet Bland of Galesburg; his three sisters, Cynthia (and Randy) Marquith, and her children Zac and Lindsay Marquith, of Knoxville, Christine Ross and her children, Josh Bland, Matthew Young and Natalie Ross, of Galesburg, and Julie (and James) Griffin of Houston, Texas; and his grandmother, Myrtle Wilson of Toulon, Illinois.
As a junior at the University of Illinois, Major Bland enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA and then reported to the School of Infantry for training as a Mortarman. After his training, Lance Corporal Bland worked toward completing his Bachelor of Science in Aviation Administration at Indiana State University, rising to the rank of Corporal. In 2000, he attended Officer Candidates School and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant on 27 October 2001. Second Lieutenant Bland completed Basic School in 2002 and proceeded to primary flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL. First Lieutenant Bland completed flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator in June 2004. He was directed to report to HMLAT 303 to commence training in the AH-1W Super Cobra. In December 2004, First Lieutenant Bland was assigned to HMLA-369 and deployed with HMM-163 (REIN) with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). He served as the Future Operations Officer ad H-1 NATOPS Officer while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (2005) and Exercise Bright Star in Egypt. When he was complete with the 13th MEU, he returned to HMLA-267 and was promoted to the rank of Captain. His next deployment was to Okinawa, Japan with HMM-265 (REIN) as part of the 31st MEU from January 2007 to December 2007. During this time, Captain Bland participated in Exercise FOAL Eagle, Exercise Ulchi Focus Lens Korea, Philippine Bilateral Exercise, and Exercise Talisman Saber, Australia. He returned to HMLA-267 from his year-long deployment in December 2007. Captain Bland was selected for an Individual Augment (IA) billet and deployed with the Point of Entry Transition Team in Iraq from August 2008 to February 2009. Captain Bland returned to HMLA-267 where he remained until September 2009 when he checked into HMLAT-303.
Major Bland's personal decorations include the Air Medal-Strike/Flight numeral 4, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with One Gold Star.
Funeral services for Major Bland will be at 1 p.m. Saturday 8 October 2011 at the First Presbyterian Church, with Rev. David Parker officiating. Visitation will be held Friday, 7 October 2011 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the church. Cremation rites will follow the services and interment of ashes will take place in Arlington National Cemetery. Memorials may be directed to an education fund for Aliana at First Mid-Illinois Bank, 331 E. Main St, Knoxville, IL 61448, c/o Karen Tuthill, Trust #331 or the Semper Fi fund for Marine families in time of need.