Monday, November 23, 2009

Army Spc. Jason A. McLeod

Remember Our Heroes

Army Spc. Jason A. McLeod, 22, of Crystal Lake, Ill.

Spc. McLeod was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Nov. 23, 2009 west of Pashmul, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit with mortar fire.

Daily Herald -- A Crystal Lake soldier killed in Afghanistan last month was remembered as an all American hero who loved his country, his family and his friends.

More than 200 people on Friday filled the chapel of the Davenport Funeral Home in Crystal Lake to say goodbye to Sgt. Jason McLeod, 22, who died Nov. 23 after his unit was attacked with mortar fire near Pashmul.

Mourners filled the two sides of the L-shaped chapel and many stood listening in the lobby. A collage of photographs and a portrait of McLeod stood near his flag-draped casket as the Rev. John Gow of Ss. Peter and Paul Church in Cary read some of McLeod's favorite Bible verses, including from the Gospel of Paul.

U.S Navy Petty Officer Ryan Cannon, a childhood friend, recalled memories of "fireworks and rat tails," from their youth.

"His memory will live on in our hearts forever," said Cannon, who also assured McLeod's wife, Aimee Ghannam, and their 15-month-old daughter, Jocelyn, that their husband and father did not die in vain.

Gov. Pat Quinn addressed the audience, telling families and friends gathered that the entire state "has to pause and thank God for the life of Sgt. Jason McLeod."

During the standing-room-only ceremony at Davenport Funeral Home, the Rev. John Gow said McLeod embodied the kind of love St. Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 13.

"Without love, we really become nothing," said Gow. "Love gives meaning. It is how we love that defines the type of people we become. In this reading, we are reminded of the person Jason became and the love he had for his family and his country."

McLeod's casket was draped with an American flag and a video montage displayed photos of the smiling soldier holding his infant daughter, Jocelyn Elizabeth, who was swaddled in an American flag.

McLeod also is survived by his widow, the former Aimee Rambo. He was a 2006 graduate of Crystal Lake Central High School.

The long funeral cortege that slowly made its way through town to Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery in Cary included ambulances and squad cars flashing their lights, members of the American Legion and the Patriot Riders, who carried large American flags on their motorcycles.

Insurance agencies, auto shops, law firms and restaurants along the route displayed well wishes and prayers for McLeod and for his family.

At Porters Oyster Bar, where McLeod's mother, Barb, is a waitress, the front of the building was draped with an oversized American flag.

One of the mourners, longtime family friend Chuck Lee, said he has known the McLeod family for 30 years. McLeod, he said, had a lot going for him.

"He honored his family," he said. "He honored his wife. He honored his town, and now his town is honoring him."

Navy Petty Officer Ryan Cannon was a childhood friend of McLeod's.

The soldier was "not just a good man, he was a great man," Cannon said. "He is an American hero. Jason was a vibrant, shining star wherever he went."

A procession led by members of the Patriot Guard escorted McLeod's remains to the Windridge Memorial Park Cemetery in Cary, where McLeod was laid to rest with full military honors.

McLeod was deployed to Afghanistan in May and was killed less than a month before he was due home on leave. McLeod also served for a year in Iraq in 2007. He was a mechanic who worked on Humvees and was assigned to the 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, out of Fort Carson, Colo.

Army Spc. Jason A. McLeod was killed in action on 11/23/09.

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