James Patrick Blecksmith – 2nd Lieutenant, USMC

Meet James Patrick (J.P.) Blecksmith

2nd Lieutenant, USMC: 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines

September 26, 1980 – November 11, 2004 (Fallujah, Iraq)

J.P. had unflappable integrity and perseverance – traits that almost made him destined to be a Marine.  He was a gifted athlete, a loyal friend, and a fierce patriot. With a great sense of humor, J.P. never took himself too seriously, but had an infinite list of dreams, goals, and aspirations.  There was a certain wanderlust to him that fueled unique and varied tastes in music, food, and travel.   He was a focused leader and never took his leadership responsibilities lightly.

 

To J.P., being a Marine was not about him – the medals, the ribbons or the promotions – it was about his Marines and serving this great Country.  His greatest satisfaction was putting his Marines in a position to be successful, and then seeing their accomplishments.  He loved the physical side of being a Marine and the challenges of long days with little food and water.  J.P. had an enviable ability to live in the moment, to dream big and most importantly, to be doing exactly what he wanted to do – being a Marine.

Jason Aaron Rogers – Staff Sergeant, USMC

Meet Jason Aaron Rogers
Staff Sergeant, United States Marine Corps
April 9, 1982 – April 7 2011

From an early age, Jason was always smiling and caring. Always making sure you were okay. If I was sad he would come sit with me and hug me to cheer me up. He always cared for other people before he would himself. As early as 2 years old if he saw a person begging for money on the street, Jason insisted on stopping to give them something. Even if it was only pocket change he wanted to help the needy.

Jason had such a caring heart. I was visiting Jason’s grave site at the cemetery when a van pulled up. A young adult got out with his mother. He asked if I was Jason’s mother. I said “yes”. He said Jason saved his life. He told me that he had been bullied at school and hit over the head with a fire extinguisher one day when kids were trying to beat him up. Jason intervened. He just wanted to tell me “Thank you”.

Jason had a funny personality. You could not stay around him for any length of time without laughing. But that’s what he did. He had a very unique wit. And he was a thinker. He also loved his clothes. He loved to look sharp. He LOVED his tennis shoes. They had to be white and clean. His jeans had to look a certain way. One reason he wanted to join the Marine Corps is because they have the best looking uniforms. He thought they were the sharpest. After boot camp, he would wear his dress blues to the mall just to go walk around and be seen.

Before Jason’s 4th deployment, many parents came up to us and to tell us of how proud and comforted they were that Jason would be their Marines squad leader because they had heard of his leadership skills and experience.

Jason was a child God lent me for a while to love and raise and he was put here to be exactly who he was. When I think back to the events of his life, which is really too much to put here, his purpose was to share his soul and help others. To be a Marine, set an example and to help others.

After Jason’s death, I received dozens of letters from Marines about what they learned from him. I found out Jason’s vehicle had been previously hit by an IED. It was not his time to go. There was more for him to teach, more for people to learn.

The last year of his life fell into place like it was supposed to. He was able to see everyone, say what he wanted to say to everyone, marry his bride, go on a family vacation, be home for Christmas and see the Celtics play. But when he left before his last deployment, there was a feeling in his soul that he wasn’t coming home. I felt it and he felt it. I could see it and he knew it.

I can honestly say the last words we said to each other was “I love you”. He sent a letter to me to be mailed when he went on his last deployment to clear Ladaar Bazaar. It said, “If you get this letter, don’t worry, I’ll see you on the other side”. And that I will.

John Savage – Sergeant, U.S. Army

Meet SGT. John Savage

John Jared Savage was born March 04, 1982. John was assigned to the 103rd Engineer Company, 94th Battalion, Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He was killed December 04, 2008 in Mosul, Iraq when a suicide bomber driving an SUV, broadsided his armored vehicle, which set off an explosive device upon impact.

John was drawn to the military when he was just a young boy. He loved the idea of being a soldier. In fact, John replaced his bed with an Army-style cot and footlocker. He also painted his room black with netting on the walls. He even built a Quonset hut in the backyard, and dressed up in camouflage outfits to play Army.

Kevin Cross, a friend of John’s when they were teens, said this, “J.J. was my best friend as a teenager. I miss him. We always wanted to be in the Army. We had all the military gear. We would go hiking and pretend to be soldiers. I’m glad he fulfilled his dream.”

John’s family was his #1 priority. He also leaves behind a 9-year old daughter, Nicole. His mother, Jackie, describes John as a charismatic young man with a great sense of fun and who was taught to always look for the brighter side of a situation.

In a letter to me, his father, Battalion Executive Officer Major Stephen Peterson wrote. “Sgt. Savage was better than great; he was phenomenal. He acted much more like an officer than an enlisted soldier. On top of loving the Army and his job, he was brilliantly intelligent, articulate, outgoing, friendly and ambitious. He was always excited about life, his family and his friends. He made everyone else’s life better.”

John served two tours overseas. He was just four days shy of coming home when he was killed. It was his plan to go on a father/son trip when he got home, and then open an automotive business together. Because of John’s death, his step-mother and I are not only members of PCGSF, but of the Patriot Guard Riders, and are Peer Mentors of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T.A.P.S.) Seminars.

Proud GS Father and Step-Mother, John & Carole Savage