Sunday, July 15, 2007

Jon Lockey remembered

A Bakersfield boy who mucked out horse stalls ended up with a primetime-worthy military career and a trailer to call home outside Saddam Hussein's old Baghdad palace.

Army Col. Jon M. Lockey investigated evidence left behind at scenes of terrorist attacks in Iraq, said his father, Hal.

The gruesome scientific work didn't leave him cold to human tragedy -- even at the ornate palace.

"He did say that when ordinary Iraqi citizens came in there, they wept because they had never realized that that government had built that when they were suffering so much themselves," Hal said.

On July 6, Lockey was found dead in bed inside his trailer. He was 44.

The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating the cause of death, according to a news release. Lockey's father said he was told it could have been heart-related, although he didn't know if his son had heart problems.

Lockey, a graduate of Bakersfield High School and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, made his home in Fredericksburg, Va. He was assigned to the headquarters of the Department of the Army in Washington, D.C.

The public is invited to a memorial service 11 a.m. Tuesday at Valley Baptist Church. A reception at the church will follow. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 1 with full military honors.

Lockey's mother, Pat, and sister, Susan, were too emotional to talk about him Thursday, Hal said.

Lockey deployed to Iraq earlier this year. He served with a unit that dealt with biometrics -- the science of identifying individuals by DNA, fingerprints, retinal patterns or other characteristics.

After an insurgent bombing, his team would gather forensic evidence to identify terrorists who might have also left clues at other attack scenes. Lockey seemed proud to be living the kind of action played out on primetime TV cop shows.

"He said, 'Would you believe I'm doing 'CSI,' 'NCIS,' FBI, CIA, whatever,'" Hal recalled.

Born in North Hollywood in 1963, Jon spent his early years in Canyon Country in the Santa Clarita Valley. Hal's job took the family to Bakersfield in 1979, when his son was 16 years old.

The family lived in Rosedale and raised horses. He was active in the 4-H Club and showed horses. At West Point, he joined the equestrian team.

Lockey loved anything to do with computers. He was fun-loving, but had a driven personality, said his father.

"He'd focus in and he was a workaholic," Hal said.

He played "Army" like other little boys, but it wasn't until his senior year of high school that he decided it was the life for him.

Someone called him into the school office, where he met an officer from West Point. The officer told him he'd be a good candidate for the school and asked if he would be interested in joining. Lockey never found out who pinpointed him, Hal said.

He graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1981 and joined the academy, graduating from West Point in 1985 as a second lieutenant.

He then studied Italian at the military language institute in Monterey. Hal said his son wanted to go to Europe, and the Army needed someone in northern Italy.

It was in Monterey that he met his future wife, Jeannie. They have two teenage sons, Steven and Chris.

He spent three years as a liaison for American and Italian forces in Vicenza, Italy.

"If one of our guys got into a brawl in town, he went in and shepherded them back," his father said.

Lockey served in Fort Sill, Okla., where he prepared troops and equipment for the Gulf War. He was disappointed that he didn't get to serve in the war, Hal said.

At Fort Monroe, Va., he was part of a think tank handling intelligence reports from around the world. He was assigned to the Pentagon, where he helped plan the current war in Iraq.

While attending the U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., around 2005, he wrote a paper on how to stabilize a country at the end of a war. It involved developing computerized "processes and models" of what would be successful. Hal said he couldn't wrap his mind around it.

Lockey didn't share his thoughts about the controversial days leading up to the Iraq war.

"I think he felt that we need to have planned a little bit more before the aftermath of war," Hal said.

Hal last spoke to his son about two weeks ago. Lockey never really spoke about the culture or daily life in Iraq, but he said in some areas of the country, violence was decreasing and Iraqis were moving on with their lives.

"He said, 'Dad, we've been getting the bad guys,'" Hal remembered.

From the Bakersfield Californian

Related Link:
Jon M. Lockey dies 'of injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident'