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Tampa soldier dies of injuries from bombing in Afghanistan

Christophe Marquis is pictured in a March 2011photo with his son Christopher.  Christophe J. Marquis, 40, of Tampa, died Sunday from injuries sustained in an attack in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said in a statement. He died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries he suffered Aug. 27 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, the Army said.

Photo courtesy of Brittany Jackson-Marquis

Christophe Marquis is pictured in a March 2011photo with his son Christopher. Christophe J. Marquis, 40, of Tampa, died Sunday from injuries sustained in an attack in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said in a statement. He died at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries he suffered Aug. 27 in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, the Army said.

TAMPA — Christophe Marquis was 39 when he joined the Army.

His wife was wary, but Marquis insisted it was the best way he could provide. She had just given birth to their first son, Christopher.

"It was the health insurance, the chance to have a house and just to not have to worry about anything," Brittany Jackson-Marquis said.

He said goodbye and left for basic training. Then he moved to a base in Alaska and shipped off to Afghanistan as a private first class in April. On Sunday, he died at a German hospital from injuries suffered Aug. 27 in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, the Army said.

Jackson-Marquis, 22, said Army officials told her a suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device at a checkpoint where Marquis had been working that day.

"Christophe was the closest one to him," she said.

She flew to Germany last week with their son, but Marquis was already on life support. She talked to him anyway.

She thanked him for little Christopher and sang their song, Happy Together. He had loved that song from the time they began dating — the only one for me is you, and you for me.

On Saturday, their son, who will turn 2 next week, waved goodbye to his father at the hospital. The next day, Marquis was taken off life support.

Marquis grew up in Strasbourg, France, and joined the French Army at 18. After five years, he decided he had enough, said his sister, Magalí Naas, 30. He moved to Normandy, where he owned two bars and drove a Porsche.

In 2007, he visited his sister in the United States for a skiing trip. Naas had studied theater in Virginia and was working at several theaters in the Tampa Bay area. During that trip, he decided he wanted to live near her.

In 2008 he moved to Seminole Heights and opened the 502 Sports Cafe in downtown Tampa.

Around the corner, Jackson-Marquis was working as a teller at the SunTrust bank. As a business owner, Marquis visited the bank often, but his visits soon became excessive, she said.

"He'd come in saying, "Ohhh, I need change for a dollar,' " she said. "I flirted back at him. I noticed him from the beginning, but I was sure that he had some beautiful wife and five gorgeous kids.

"Turns out he was actually like me: single with no children, waiting on each other."

They married in September 2009 and spent seven months together before he joined the Army. He missed his son's first birthday but came home in March.

Her husband's moments with Christopher were the best, Jackson-Marquis said.

"It was just giggle after giggle," she said. "Sometimes I wouldn't even know what was going on."

They planned to have a second child.

In April, when Marquis went to Afghanistan, his wife wasn't especially worried. She knew it was dangerous but was comforted by his continual stream of Facebook messages and e-mails.

But it tore her up when, several days after his death, she saw a message he had written earlier.

From now on, every morning I'm going to be on Facebook at 10 a.m. to talk to you.

"That hurt," she said. "It still hurts. It was his last promise, the last thing that he said to me."

She's in Strasbourg now with his family. They plan to have a memorial service today. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 at Springhill Missionary Baptist Church, 8119 E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., in Tampa

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Reach Jessica Vander Velde at (813) 226-3433 or jvandervelde@sptimes.com.

>>BIOGRAPHY

Pfc. Christophe Joel Marquis

Born: Jan. 25, 1971.

Died: Sept. 4, 2011.

Survivors: Wife Brittany; son Christopher; mother Francine Soucat; father Joel Marquis; half sister Magalí Naas; half brothers Sebastian, Romain and Benjamin Marquis.

Tampa soldier dies of injuries from bombing in Afghanistan 09/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 11:26pm]
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