Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jonathan A. Markham dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted position'

BURLESON — Late in the afternoon Monday, Stacey Markham answered the door to a woman delivering flowers.

Markham read the card and dissolved into tears and the embrace of her family.

The little card read, “I love you with all my heart. Jonathan.”

Monday was Stacey Markham’s 22nd birthday. The man who sent the flowers was Jonathan A. Markham, her husband.

Cpl. Markham, 22, died last Tuesday in Abu Sayda, Iraq, one of six men killed when their Bradley fighting vehicle blew up from a powerful roadside bomb while they were racing to a helicopter crash.

Ordering flowers for his wife’s birthday was one of his last acts of love.

“He always ordered flowers early,” she said. “He was frugal. Anything to save money.”

Cpl. Markham – he was in the process of being promoted to sergeant – returns to North Texas today on a flight into Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

Cpl. Markham served on a burial detail at the D-FW National Cemetery last year before deploying to Iraq and knew that he wanted to be there if he died.

He also had asked his wife to ask President Bush to attend his funeral.

“He wanted the president to see the cost of war, to know that the men are not just numbers, that there’s a face and a family behind that number,” she said.

Born on March 2, 1985, in Wisconsin, Cpl. Markham’s family moved to Arlington when he was in middle school. He graduated from Sam Houston High School in 2003 and joined the Army a year later as a cavalry scout.

Shortly after basic training, he was sent to Iraq for six months in the middle of the 1st Cavalry Division’s deployment. When he came home in 2005, he married Stacey, a friend since high school.

Last October, Cpl. Markham deployed again, this time in Apache Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment. Before he left, he re-enlisted in the Army so he could continue putting his wife through college, and he saw his child Daniel born.

“When he got out of the Army, his dream was to be a stay-at-home daddy for a while,” Stacey Markham said. “He spent so much time at work that he really just wanted to be at home with us.”

He loved being a soldier, she said, and felt a bond with other soldiers that she could never share.

“They have such a brotherhood,” she said. “They have seen things that we will never understand.”

The 1st Cavalry Division has sustained so many casualties in recent months that Stacey Markham is certain it had affected her husband’s outlook. Maybe he just sensed something, his wife said, because she learned that he told his two best friends that he loved them on the way out on his last mission.

The day before he’d sent his wife an e-mail.

“He never sent e-mails,” she said. “When I got one, I cherished it. The last one he sent just summed up so perfectly our lives.”

In addition to his wife and son, Cpl. Markham is survived by his mother, Dawn Markham; father Steve Bryan and stepmother Kelly Bryan; a sister, Alesha Bryan; and stepsisters Heather Bluebird, Amber Pederson and Tayler Akins.

From the Star-Telegram