Sunday, September 23, 2007

John Mele dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations'

A former Henderson resident was killed in Iraq when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations.

Sgt. John Williams Mele, 25, died Sept. 14 in Arab Jabour of wounds caused by the detonation, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Mele was assigned to the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division of Fort Stewart, Ga.

Mele lived in Henderson until he was 6 years old, said Judy Mele, his aunt. His father, Michael Mele, was offered a job in Union City, Tenn. Several relatives, including grandmother Anne Mele and uncle Frank Mele, still live in Henderson. John Mele frequently returned to Henderson to visit them, Judy Mele said.

John Mele's wife, Jennie, and 6-year-old daughter, Clarissa, live in Glennville, Ga., where the family was building a house, Judy Mele said.

She said he had wanted to be a soldier since he was a child. She said this was his second tour in Iraq.

"He was very proud of what he was doing," she said.

Judy Mele said her nephew was a real hero who put himself on the line for his fellow soldiers. He was patrolling southwest of Baghdad when his patrol was about to enter and search a house, she said. As the group approached the house, he told the other soldiers to stay back and he would check it out, Judy Mele said. A concealed home-made bomb detonated as he entered the house, she said.

"He was a good, strong soldier," she said. "Our hearts are broken."

From the News Journal