What distinguished Chad Jenson on the Mira Costa High School football field is what propelled him up the ranks in the Marine Corps. He was a member of its Special Forces Marine Raider Unit, and tragically, he was one of 16 who perished in Monday's fiery military plane crash in Mississippi.
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Former teammate Andrew Brenner said at 16 years old, Jenson dreamed of becoming a Marine.
"Chad was the most loyal person, whether it was towards his friends, to his team and ultimately his country," said Brenner.
Where Jenson excelled was outside the spotlight, in the shadows. The offensive lineman was never featured in the headlines. A work horse, according to his teammates, it was the task - not fame - that mattered, said his personal coach, Chuck Arrasmith.
"As guys were tackling you, somehow Chad's body would come flying into the pile to lay a last second block, and then he would help you get off the ground and get you back in the huddle," Arrasmith cried. "That was who he was. He was a man for others."
There was sense that if there was anything Jenson could have done to save his unit that day, he would have come through. But there was no surviving the mid-air emergency in Mississippi and the fiery plunge to the ground.
In the Manhattan Beach field where teammates celebrated a CIF championship in 2009, many now shed tears.
"He had a special place in my heart, you know. He will never really go away," Arrasmith said, as he held back tears.