By BEN SWARTZ
WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2008)—Marine Corps Capt. Jesse Melton III had always been willing to make sacrifices for his country.
"He would say, 'I am willing to take a bullet for my country and my men,'" said Melton's mother, Janice Chance of Owings Mills. "If I need to give my life for my Marines, I will take a bullet for them."
On Tuesday the 29-year old Randallstown native gave the ultimate sacrifice when his Humvee struck a roadside bomb in the Parwan province in Afghanistan, killing him and four others.
Melton graduated from Messiah College, a Christian university in Grantham, Pa., in 2000 with a degree in communications. After his first year at Messiah, Melton joined the Marine Reserves and completed officer candidate school in his junior year. Melton served one tour of duty in Iraq in 2005 and two tours in Okinawa, Japan, before he was deployed to Afghanistan.
Despite having completed a previous combat tour, Melton was uneasy about being deployed to Afghanistan.
"He said 'I don't have a good feeling about this. I'm either not going to come back home or I'm going to come back injured,'" said Chance. "But he told me if something happens to him, not to bash President Bush, not to bash this country. He said 'I choose this. This is my decision.'"
Melton's family describes him as a man of great faith. Before college Melton was devoted to his church. After his parents divorced the congregation of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown helped raise him, family members said. Melton's father is deceased.
"I wanted to be like him, I truly wanted to emulate my brother," said Melton's sister Army Capt. Jenine Melton. "In the absence of a father in our household he served as a father to my brother and I."
Jenine Melton said her brother's service to his country inspired her to join the Army, and inspired both her and her brother, Joshua Melton, to pursue degrees in communication. Jenine has served two tours of duty in Iraq and will serve a third in June of next year.
"He was a man of honor, dedication and selfless service. He joined the military because he truly wanted to make a difference," said Jenine Melton.
Melton was always concerned with helping others, said his family. He always tried to lead by example and he always looked for the good in everyone.
"He would say that if I can save one person that would be worth it," said Chance.
Melton will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are pending.
In recent months, Army Sgt. Ryan P. Baumann of Great Mills and Army Lt. Col. James J. Walton of Rockville have died in Afghanistan. The total number of military deaths from Maryland is 84.
Capital News Service contributed to this report.