Bel Air Marine killed in Pa. crash had served in Iraq

August 06, 2004|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,SUN STAFF

Christopher Custer, the 21-year-old Marine lance corporal who was killed in a car crash last weekend in Pennsylvania, had recently returned from Iraq, where he served as a combat engineer, according to information released yesterday by the Marine Corps.

Lt. Clark Carpenter, a public information officer at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Custer was stationed, said the Bel Air resident was on three weeks leave, which is typical for Marines returning from duty in Iraq.

Carpenter said that Custer had received a half-dozen awards since joining the Marines in November 2000, including the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal.

As a combat engineer, Custer was involved in the construction of defensive structures to protect troops, said Carpenter. The work involved using equipment to dig foxholes and stretch wire around an area to keep out intruders. He said Custer also helped remove explosive traps planted by enemy forces.

There is no record of Custer attending public or private high school in Harford County, said Donald R. Morrison, a spokesman for the county public schools. Nor did he attend the private John Carroll High School, officials there said.

Custers family could not be reached for comment yesterday.

According to a Porter Township, Pa., police report, Custer was speeding when his car went out of control about 6:30 Sunday morning, hit a tree and plunged into Pine Creek near where it flows into the Susquehanna River, west of Williamsport. Custer's body was swept away by high water and recovered from the river Wednesday in Jersey Shore, Pa.

Custer served with the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion of the 2nd Marine Division. He was due to complete his tour with the Marines in November.

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