Sunday, August 22, 2010

Marine Sgt. Jason D. Calo

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Jason D. Calo, 23, of Lexington, Ky.

Sgt. Calo was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C; died Aug. 22, 2010 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Jason Dean Calo was a bona fide leader who quarterbacked his football team to victory against area rivals.

Calo hung up his helmet and cleats when he graduated from Mancelona High School in 2005, but never relinquished that leadership role. Calo, 23, instead traded his football equipment for a U.S. Marine Corps. uniform and quickly rose to the rank of sergeant.

Calo's life and military career came to an abrupt end Sunday when he died during an insurgent attack in Afghanistan. Survivors include several family members, his wife, Sarah, and a 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son, a family friend said.

"He was more than just a player," said Doug Derrer, Calo's football coach at Mancelona. "He played with a big heart. When he was in school, he wasn't very big, but he was a scrapper. He was definitely one of the leaders of the team."

Cathy Griffore, of Mancelona, said her family and Calo's family moved to the area around the same time in the early 1990s, and her son and Calo became friends as they rode the bus to school.

"They were pretty good buddies," Griffore said. "(Calo) was a bit of a devil, but he was a good-hearted kid."

Griffore said Calo's mother, Jeri Manville, of Mancelona, was headed to Dover, Del., on Monday to bring Calo's body home to Michigan.

Calo got his first taste of boot camp at a young age. He and friend Justin Trudeau accidentally broke his bedroom door one night while their mothers were out. They partially fixed the door, but a simple knock from their mothers sent it crashing down.

As punishment, Calo and Trudeau were forced to perform a series of exercises outside, in the middle of January, in only their underwear.

"He never gave up, kept on running, kept on pushing," Trudeau said. "That's what I remember of Jason — a true friend that would stick by your side through thick and thin, didn't matter the consequences or the payouts."

Calo studied auto-body repair at the Traverse Bay Area Career-Tech Center, Mancelona High School Principal Joe Clark said.

"He seemed to love to do the hands-on type of biology activities," said Clark, who taught Calo in a science class. "He was just a friendly, outgoing young man. It's just devastating."

Clark said news of Calo's death is particularly hard given the fact that combat troops already left Iraq and the federal government plans a July 2011 withdrawal date from Afghanistan.

"I wasn't surprised at all that he would do that," Clark said of Calo's decision to enlist. "(He was) just a very giving young man."

Calo also served in the Iraq war, where he worked in late 2008 as an artillery/mortar scout observer as a liaison between mortar teams and forward air controllers that help guide military aircraft.

From his obituary:

Jason is survived by his loving wife, Sarah Calo, of Clio; children, Allison Calo, 3, and Achilles Calo, 2, of Clio; mother, Jeri Manville, of Mancelona; stepfather, Thomas Manville, of Traverse City; brothers, Adam and Justin Calo, both of Mancelona; maternal grandparents, John and Julie Lemcool, of Mancelona; and a niece, Chloe Calo, of Mancelona. He will be greatly missed.

Marine Sgt. Jason D. Calo was killed in action on 8/22/10.

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