A Life Lived in Service

Laura and Jeff Mankey


Laura (Berwager) Mankey was a woman with a plan, but in her case, that plan was always flexible.

“Laura was one of those people everybody wishes they were,” recalls her husband, Navy Lieutenant Jeff Mankey. “She was always trying to find ways to help others.”

A 2003 USD and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps graduate, Mankey, who reached the rank of Navy lieutenant junior grade, was well-respected. She talked to Girl Scouts about being a pilot, and organized community service projects. And she planned her January 2003 wedding herself.

“She put it together while going to school,” says Jeff, 28. “She planned it while I was in Florida (at Officer Candidate School). We had 115 people. It was perfect.”

Nothing could have prepared the young couple for the Jan. 26, 2007, Navy helicopter training crash off the California coast that killed all four of the crew members, including Laura. Jeff, working on a submarine in Washington, had been away from his wife for nearly two months, due to both of their naval commitments.

Jeff says that Laura’s life was filled with joy and a big family, made up in part of her three sisters and two brothers. She’d also derived great pleasure from her husband and the memorable events she experienced during her time at USD and through NROTC. In honor of her life, Jeff recently started the Lt. J.G. Laura J. Mankey Endowed Scholarship Fund to benefit an NROTC student while at USD.

“I hope people think about what she had to offer, and what she did,” Jeff says. “I hope people look at themselves and make changes without having to go through something horrific.”— Ryan T. Blystone

To learn more, call John Phillips in the Office of Planned Giving at (619) 260-4523.

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