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Local soldier killed in training accident
MARYSVILLE Flags in Marysville and at all Snohomish County facilities were flying at half staff May 12 in honor of Army Reserve Specialist Joseph M. Cerfus.
Cerfus, 25, died May 5 during a joint training exercise at the Canadian Manoeuvre Training Center, CFB Wainwright in Alberta Canada.
Cerfus was a member of A Co., 5-159 Aviation Regiment, an Army Reserve Chinook helicopter unit stationed at Gray Army Airfield in Fort Lewis, Wash.
According to the Dept. of the Army, the unit was taking part in the Maple Guardian Exercise, a joint drill including U.S. and Canadian forces.
A Marysville resident who worked as a custody officer for Snohomish County, Cerfus was serving as part of the ground crew during what the Army called a sling-load operation. A sling-load operation involves slinging an item under an airborne helicopter and flying it to another location.
No other soldiers were injured in the accident, which still is under investigation. The operation was meant to prepare troops for deployment to Afghanistan.
Cerfus was treated on the scene by emergency medical technicians and flown to Wainwright hospital where he died.
Attempts to reach Cerfus' family in Marysville were unsuccessful.
"Joseph was known to employees as a hard worker and a dedicated soldier," said Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.
Cerfus began working with the county's corrections division in January 2007.
The county honored Cerfus with a joint resolution signed by Reardon and County Council Chairman Dave Somers. Marysville City Council also passed a resolution honoring Cerfus during their regular meeting May 12.
Cerfus brought a strong sense of teamwork and believed no job was too big or too small, said Steve Thompson, the county's corrections director.
"Joseph was an asset to the work that we have to do here," Thompson said. "He worked alongside many of our corrections officers and was frontline most of the time."
Thompson bragged that Snohomish County has made efforts to offer employment to members of the Armed Forces and their families. Reardon said vets often prove to be high-caliber employees who are well regarded in the work they do.
"These employees take great pride in protecting our country's freedom and working for Snohomish County," Reardon said. "We owe a great deal of gratitude to Officer Cerfus and others who selflessly put service to their country and to their community above all else."
According to the city, Cerfus completed two tours of duty in Iraq as a member of the Navy before joining the Army Reserves.
Cerfus is survived by his father Michael Cerfus of Marysville; his mother and stepfather; Susan and Mark Harr of Phoenix; two sisters in Phoenix and one in Marysville, as well as a niece in Phoenix.