Monday, May 14, 2007

Air Force Staff Sgt. John T. Self

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Staff Sgt. John T. Self, 29, of Pontotoc, Miss.

SSgt. Self was assigned to the 314th Security Forces Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; died May 14, 2007 as result of enemy action near Baghdad.

Airman from Miss. dies in Iraq during 4th tour, his mother says

By Holbrook Mohr
The Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. — An Air Force security officer, who was killed May 14 and became the second Mississippi soldier to die in Iraq in less than a week, had volunteered for his fourth tour because he wanted to serve his country, his mother said May 15.

Staff Sgt. John T. Self, 29, of Pontotoc, was killed May 14 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad, according to his mother, Jill Self.

The Department of Defense had not confirmed the information May 15. Its policy is to wait 24 hours after notification of next of kin.

“He had volunteered for this mission. He wanted to serve his country,” Jill Self told The Associated Press in a telephone interview May 15. “His commanding officer called this morning and said he was good airman and his unit from Arkansas called and said he had done his job.”

Self was a 1998 graduate of South Pontotoc High School, where he played trumpet in the marching band.

“He loved to deer hunt and fish and play computer games. He was a loving child. He was there for his family and friends,” Jill Self said. “I loved him very much and he’s going to be missed.”

Self joined the Air Force in 1999. He was in Iraq as part of a deployment out of Little Rock Air Force Base, his mother said.

Self is the second Mississippian killed in Iraq in a matter of days.

Army Sgt. Jason W. Vaughn, 29, of Iuka, died last May 10. Vaughn was also killed by a roadside bomb. The makeshift bombs, also known as improvised explosive devices, have taken a heavy toll on American forces in Iraq.

Vaughn was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq with the Stryker Brigade based in Fort Lewis, Wash., when he was killed. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

The latest deaths bring to 55 the number of people from Mississippi or with strong ties to the state to die in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an unofficial Associated Press count.

Airman remembered at Iraq memorial
Staff report

Airmen at Camp Liberty and Balad Air Base, Iraq, paid tribute Friday to Staff Sgt. John T. Self, a Security Forces airman killed May 14 in an improvised explosive device attack in Baghdad.

Self was on his 79th combat patrol as a fire team leader with Detachment 3,732 Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, when an IED tore apart his Humvee. Three other airmen were wounded in the attack.

His home unit was the 314th Security Forces Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. He joined the Air Force in 1998.

Det 3 is in charge of the mission to train Iraqi police in southern Baghdad, and the 29-year-old native of Pontotoc, Miss., had volunteered for a year-long deployment with the unit.

The 150 or so airmen with Det 3 go on missions outside the wire several times per week, and they face frequent IED and sniper attacks.

This was the third major attack on the unit during the past month, but it was their first death.

“We were fortunate to draw some of the best airmen and NCOs our career field has to offer for this mission,” Maj. David Harris, Det 3 commander, said in a statement. “They were willing to step out of their comfort zone and tackle challenges unknown to most of their peers. Sergeant Self was probably one of our most extreme cases of that ‘special type.’”

Self’s comrades remembered him as a brother, friend and leader.

“Even in this environment [of training Iraqis], Sergeant Self managed to keep his troops focused, motivated and proficient,” Harris said.

His legacy will live on with those he led in combat, mourners said.

“He could always find the humor in anything regardless of the situation,” said Senior Airman Daniel Hunsperger, a member of Self’s fire team. “He believed in everything he did. This was obvious to us after learning he had only spent two weeks home between his last deployment and volunteering for this one.”

Pontotoc airman buried
The Associated Press

PONTOTOC, Miss. — Hundreds of people filled a two-story church May 23 to pay their respects to fallen Air Force Staff Sgt. John Self, the fourth service member from this county to die since 2003.

Self, who was 29, was killed May 14 by an improvised explosive device while serving his fourth tour in Iraq.

“John was a good boy, a good boy who loved his country and who loved Christ and for that he’ll move on to a better place,” said Laron Self, the soldier’s grandfather, fighting back tears.

Self, a member of the 314th Squadron out of Little Rock, Ark., was known as a kindhearted patriot to many. When his flag-draped bier was carried into the church, many mourners were visibly shaken, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal.

“This is it,” Julia Wash said as the casket was rolled to the sanctuary center. “He’s gone and not coming back. It’s hard to believe that a person his age could give so much for his country.”

People lined both sides of the highway for more than 5 miles waving flags as the hundred-car procession traveled to the burial.

Shouts of, “We love you John,” and “Thank you, John,” could be heard as the train of cars passed by.

“That’s a hero,” Susan Chambers said to her son, Jamison, as she pointed at Self’s casket.

Air Force Staff Sgt. John T. Self was killed in action on 5/14/07.

1 comment:

SMSgt Bobby George said...

I was at his memorial service in Iraq May 2007,,, his name is and will be embedded in my memory forever... My son who was 16 at the time, now serves the USAF and is stationed at LRAFB. RIP brother