Marine from Atkinson killed in accident overseas
ATKINSON - A decorated Marine from Atkinson died Tuesday in a recreational sporting accident in Switzerland while on a month-long leave.
Military officials said Maj. Jeremy J. Graczyk, 33, was killed while taking part in a sport known as BASE jumping, which involves using a parachute to jump from fixed objects.
The cause of the accident remains under investigation.
At the time of his death, Graczyk, who grew up in Atkinson, was assigned to the Marine Corps Augmentation and Training Support Unit, based in Quantico, Va.
Graczyk, who is the son of James and Darlene Graczyk of Atkinson, joined the Marines after graduating from the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 1999.
"He was a real, true American. Jeremy was a worthwhile individual who loved his country," said Steven Lewis, a lifelong Atkinson resident who has known Graczyk since he was a young boy.
Lewis said he watched Graczyk grow up and Lewis' son, Garrick, was a close buddy.
Graczyk and Garrick Lewis entered the military at the same time; Graczyk joined the Marines while Lewis chose the Air Force.
Fighting back tears, Lewis described Graczyk as a "dedicated, relentless, hard-working" person who enjoyed sports and often went parachuting with Garrick.
"He was so full of life and so full of fun. He was the most exceptional young man I ever met," he said. "Everybody loved Jeremy."
Graczyk was deployed on several occasions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Graczyk earned three Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medals, one Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, two National Defense Service Medals, two Afghanistan Campaign Medals, five Iraq Campaign Medals, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, a Meritorious Unit Citation and seven Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.