Sunday, February 04, 2007

Jon St. John remembered

TOWN OF VINLAND — A week before Army Pfc. Jon St. John II died in a roadside bomb blast near Baghdad he rode in convoy with fellow 1st Cavalry soldiers delivering medical supplies to an Iraqi village.

On Jan. 27, on the same convoy route to deliver food to the same Iraqi community, St. John's vehicle struck the improvised explosive device, killing the 25-year-old Vinland man and two other soldiers.

"It's my understanding his mission over there was to help these people help themselves with the intent of making them self-sufficient. The mission was very OK with Jon," said his mother, Kay St. John, in an interview Thursday with The Post-Crescent.

Funeral services for Jon St. John II will be held Tuesday at Christ The Rock Church.

"Jon really felt a part of something important. His group was working very hard to help this Iraqi community, to teach them to help themselves," Kay St. John said.

Kay read a paragraph from a letter her son sent her in early December in which he talked about his impressions of Iraq and its people.

"Almost everything is made of sand, covered in sand, has sand on it, in it and around it," Jon, a 1999 graduate of St. Mary Central High School in the Town of Menasha, wrote. "The people here are so different than people I've ever seen before, in just about every way I can think of. But inside I'm sure they are just like us."

"Jon was evolving into a wonderful man with ethics, a lot of pride and was trying to do the right thing," Kay St. John said.

Jon's sister, Sonja, said a piece of her life is gone with Jon's death.

"I'm going to miss him to no end," Sonja said.

Kay St. John said her son liked challenges in life.

"When we'd go skiing he'd jump about every jump there was," she said. "He went camping for two weeks in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, living out a canoe and backpack. He thought that was awesome stuff. Jon had some risk-taking characteristics about him. We are totally, extremely proud of him and what he was doing."

Kay said it was no surprise her son entered the military six credits away from earning a degree at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a chance to attend officer training in the Army.

Before entering officers training Jon wanted to see the military and how it worked, Kay St. John said.

"His words to me were 'As a soldier, I'm allowed to make mistakes. As an officer, I'm not," she said.

Kay St. John said her son planned to re-enlist and seek eventual transfer to Colorado, "because he loved God's earth and the mountains."

Kay, a teacher at Little Chute Elementary School, said she always has been bothered hearing daily news account of U.S. casualties.

"A week before Jon died, I remember walking out of the house and thinking things were getting pretty bad in Baghdad because there was some type of explosion and some Americans were killed," she said. "I cried all the way to Little Chute wondering if one of those killed was my son."

Kay said her family stands solidly behind the military, despite her son's death.

"We are in total support of the military. We pray for them every day and support each and every military person, their courage, mission and sacrifice they are making to protect this country," she said. "That's never going to change in my lifetime."

From the Crescent

Related Link:
Jon B. St. John dies of injuries from I.E.D.