When U.S. Marine and Henderson County resident Jessie Cassada lost his life in Afghanistan, the care packages his family and friends sent to him were returned. The 19-year-old never got those final tokens of love.
Cassada may not have received his packages, but his best friend is working hard to make sure America’s servicemen and women know they are appreciated. And he’s doing it all in memory of his fallen friend. Cameron Sproles, with Cassada’s mother, Patricia, started Jessie’s Honor, an organization that provides care packages for people serving in Afghanistan.
“We knew we had to do something for him, so we got an idea to start sending care packages overseas,” Sproles says.
A gunshot in Helmand Province took Cassada’s life on January 6, 2009. The loss was especially hard for Sproles. “His parents were my parents, and my parents were his parents. We were that close,” Sproles says. “He was a funny guy. He had a huge sense of humor. He lived with no regrets. He wanted to be a Marine, always wanted to do the Marine Corps.”
The work of Jessie’s Honor could be seen inside a trailer before Christmas. Packed inside were 700 boxes, each one filled with baby wipes, hand warmers, crackers, powdered drink mixes, water and hygiene supplies. Bureaucratic hurdles were delaying shipment of the packages, but Sproles was optimistic those would be overcome.
Sproles said Cassada’s death taught him the true meaning of service.
“I’ve never been in the Marines, never been in the military. I just have a huge amount of respect for all of our service men and women. I didn’t know of a better way to honor Jessie than through this,” he says.
People wishing to help can send donations to Jessie’s Honor, PO Box 1881, Hendersonville, NC 28792. To contact Sproles, call 828-551-4657.