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DERBY, Kan. - A young Marine returning to civilian life in Kansas died this week after falling from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, where he had stopped to do some sightseeing on his way home from Camp Pendleton, Calif., his father said.
After two years in the Marines, Jeffery Klingsick had big plans, said his father, Russ Klingsick. The 20-year-old veteran of Afghanistan planned to join a band, become an emergency medical technician and, said his father, watch lots of John Wayne movies.
Russ Klingsick, of Derby, said an investigator for Grand Canyon National Park told the family that his son had left a public viewing area on the South Rim on Tuesday, walked too close to the edge and fell 30 feet to a ledge below, The Wichita Eagle reported Thursday ( http://bit.ly/JuQ8oq).
The fall knocked him out, and a Marine buddy who was with him began climbing down to help. Jeffery Klingsick regained consciousness but appeared dazed and uncertain of where he was, his father said. As he struggled to get to his feet, he stumbled and went over the edge, falling at least 600 feet to his death.
Now, instead of a welcome home party in Derby, a funeral is being planned.
"A lot of friends were waiting to see him - and family," Russ Klingsick said.
Klingsick served in Afghanistan with as a scout and rifleman for the Marines' 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance battalion and had just been discharged from the Corps.
He had taken combat life-saving courses while in the Marines, and he wanted to become an emergency medical technician. He would come back to Derby, find a job and work toward his EMT certification.
"He had a huge fondness for music," his father said, and he already had made arrangements to become a guitar player in two different bands.
On his Facebook page, he indicated he liked hard rock, alternative rock and heavy metal. He also liked horror flicks and John Wayne movies.
"One thing he said he was looking forward to was sitting down and watching a lot of old John Wayne movies with his old man," Russ Klingsick said.