John Carl Osmolski – Sergeant, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense

Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release

February 07, 2008

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died February 5, 2008, in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered in Al Muqdadiyah when they encountered an improvised explosive device during combat operations.

Killed were:

Specialist Miguel A. Baez, 32, of Bonaire, Georgia, who was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Sergeant John C. Osmolski, 23, of Eustis, Florida, who was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Sergeant Timothy R. Van Orman, 24, of Port Matilda, Pennsylvania, who was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Fort Drum, New York.

For more information on Baez and Osmolski, media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910) 432-0661.

After 15months in Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. John C. Osmolski was ready to come home.

The date was set: This coming Wednesday, Osmolski would be back in Eustis, Florida, playing with his nephew John Micheal and tinkering with his Jeep with his brother Daniel.

He never made it home.

On Tuesday, Osmolski, 23, was searching a house in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, when a homemade bomb exploded. He and two other soldiers died of injuries from the blast.


“He was just doing his job,” Daniel Osmolski said Thursday as he sat with his wife, Heather, in his living room in Eustis. “His goal was always to go into the Army and serve his country.”

Osmolski grew up in Eustis, where he lived until he left for boot camp in January 2005. He attended Circle Christian School in Orlando, where he was a forward on the soccer team.

As a teenager, he was active in the youth groups at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Eustis and at nearby Bay Street Baptist Church. David Kelly, the youth director at New Hope, went on several mission trips with Osmolski and his twin sister, Julia, to Peru, where the church ran a ministry for street children.

Kelly said Osmolski was like a big brother to the children.

“John was passionate about whatever he did, and he poured his whole heart into those children,” Kelly said. “He didn't let any of that bother him, the fact that they were dirty or poor. He just opened up his arms and let them come to him.”

Osmolski had wanted to join the military ever since he was a kid playing with G.I. Joe dolls, his brother said. He thought he would attend college first, and after he graduated from high school, he spent a couple of semesters at Valencia Community College. Then he got impatient.

“He got tired of waiting — that's why he enlisted,” Daniel Osmolski said.

Osmolski became a combat engineer and was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He spent six months in Afghanistan in 2005 and was deployed to Iraq at the end of 2006.

“He did have a rough time, but he still believed in what he was doing,” Daniel Osmolski said. “He always said, ‘I'm doing great things over here.'”

Osmolski was scheduled to be discharged in May, and he did not plan to re-enlist. He wanted to start a family and finish college, and he had told his brother that he was toying with the idea of working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the agency that rounds up illegal immigrants.

He planned to take the summer off and spend time with his family, work on his car and play with the dog named Ophelia that he had brought home on a whim as a teenager.

“He and I went to buy a truck one day, and he came home with a dog,” Daniel Osmolski said. “Mom was not happy that night.”

Osmolski's MySpace page, which his girlfriend, Lindsey Cruz, is maintaining in the wake of his death, lists Metallica as one of his favorite bands, and Jesus Christ as his personal hero. The page is listed under Osmolski's nickname, Squirrell, which Daniel Osmolski said his brother's friends have been calling him since he was a teenager.

Today, Daniel, Heather and John Micheal Osmolski will travel to Virginia, where John Osmolski's mother, R. Eileen Osmolski, and sisters, Ruth Janna Wheat and Julia Osmolski, live outside of Richmond. The soldier's father died when he and his siblings were children.

Daniel Osmolski said John Osmolski was extraordinarily close to his family, especially with his twin sister, Julia, who was born a minute after him.

“The joke was always that she kicked him out,” he said. “They did everything together.”

Daniel Osmolski said John Osmolski was considered the clown of the family. He remembered his wedding, when John was the best man. Rather than make a toast, John gave Daniel a pair of boots that he dubbed “man-of-the-house boots.” One boot had “Man of the” embroidered on it. The other said “House.”

“He was always doing what he could to make others laugh,” Daniel Osmolski said. “He brought joy to all of us when he was around.”

Osmolski's family plans to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery later this month. They also want to have a memorial ceremony in Eustis, although they haven't settled on a date.

Daniel Osmolski said his brother often warned his family that he might die in Iraq. But John Osmolski's Christian faith helped him make peace with that possibility.

“Someone's got to do it,” he told his brother. “And who would be better than someone who knows where their eternity lies?”

“That was John,” Daniel Osmolski said. “Trying to comfort us.”

12 February 2008:

A soldier whose mother lives in Powhatan County was killed in Iraq just days before he was to return home.

Sergeant John C. Osmolski, 23, died February 5, 2008, in Balad, Iraq, after an improvised bomb exploded as he was searching a house in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad.

“My son loved America, and he considered it a privilege” to serve in the Army, his mother, Ruth Eileen Osmolski, said. “He thanked God he was born an American.”

And, she said yesterday, “My son brought us a lot of joy.”

Born in Eustis, Florida, Sergeant Osmolski graduated from Circle Christian School in Orlando, Florida, and attended Orlando's Valencia Community College.

He was active in New Hope Presbyterian Church in his Florida hometown and had taken part in mission trips to Peru in 2004 and 2005, family members recalled.

Sergeant Osmolski joined the Army in 2005. “He had talked about it for as long as I could remember,” said his sister, Ruth Janna Wheat of Powhatan. “He loved G.I. Joes and John Wayne movies.”

After enlisting for the hazardous combat-engineer specialty, he told his mother, ” ‘Who else should join up for that job but a young man who had hope of an eternal destiny?'” Mrs. Osmolski said.

He had served in Afghanistan during 2005.

On his combat tour in Iraq, Sergeant Osmolski was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was to return home this week.

Sergeant Osmolski's military awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, the Parachutist Badge and the Rifle Expert Weapons Qualification Badge.

A memorial service for Sgt. Osmolski will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Christ Church of Arlington, 3020 N. Pershing Drive, Arlington County, and he will be buried with military honors at 3 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery.

The family asks that memorial donations be made to Mission to North America/Chaplain Ministries, 1700 N. Brown Road, Suite 101, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043-8122, or the Blue Star Treasurer, 10814 Westek Drive, Richmond, Virginia 23233.

His survivors also include his twin sister, Julia Osmolski of Powhatan, and a brother, Daniel Osmolski of Eustis, Florida.

Faith Was Fallen Soldier's Guide
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Saturday, February 16, 2008

John Osmolski was a spiritual man. On his MySpace page, he begins his favorite books section with Ecclesiastes, from the Old Testament, which discusses mortality.

Army Sergeant John C. Osmolski, 23, was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery. Osmolski, of Eustis, Fla., and two other soldiers were killed February 5, 2008, by a makeshift bomb during combat operations near the Iraqi town of Muqdadiyah. Osmolski died in Balad, Iraq.

More than 120 mourners streamed up Arlington Cemetery's MacArthur Drive to follow Osmolski's flag-draped coffin. He was the 409th member of the military killed in Iraq to be buried at the cemetery.

New Hope Presbyterian Church, where Osmolski was active in youth groups, brought a busload of more than 40 friends and relatives from Eustis, in central Florida, to the funeral yesterday. As the mourners entered Section 60 of the cemetery, the muddy path they followed was marked with the footprints of mourners who had come for an earlier service at the grave next to Osmolski's.

“Before John was ours, he was yours,” an 82nd Airborne Division chaplain said after being joined by mourners in reciting the 23rd Psalm. “And now we offer John back into your arms.”

Osmolski was assigned to the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“He was just doing his job,” his brother, Daniel Osmolski, told the Orlando Sentinel last week. “His goal was always to go into the Army and serve his country.”

Osmolski was a paratrooper and combat engineer. His company commander called him “a premier young sapper, and an excellent engineer” in a statement released by the 82nd Airborne Division.

Osmolski joined the Army in January 2005 and arrived at the 82nd Airborne in June that year. He was awarded the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster and the Purple Heart, among many other awards and decorations.

Theresa Ohland, administrative assistant at New Hope Presbyterian, knew Osmolski because he was active in the church's youth group and went on a mission trip with her daughter.

“He was a sweetheart, and I'm sure his life spoke to a lot of the people that were in his military company,” she said. “He was just one of those kids that never got in trouble.”

Osmolski was bashful and handsome, a skinny boy who became “beefed up” in the service, Ohland said.

Ohland said that the last time she spoke with Osmolski's mother, Ruth, she had received a letter from him that said: “It could be possible I don't come back, but who better than me, because I'm eternally secure. I know where I'm going, and there's a lot of soldiers who don't know the Lord, so who better than me to be in the front?”

Osmolski's MySpace page, which is maintained by his girlfriend, Lindsey Cruz, has a headline with his nickname, “Squirrel.” The page lists Metallica as one of his favorite bands, along with a variety of modern and classic films. And though the page is strewn with jokes, his faith remains prominent. Under personal heroes, the list begins with Jesus Christ.

Arlington Funeral Iraq

An Army honor guard carries the casket of Army Sergeant John Carl Osmolski during funeral services at Arlington National
Cemetery in Friday, February 15, 2008

Arlington Funeral Iraq

A bugler plays taps during funeral services for Army Sergeant John Carl Osmolski, Friday,
February 15, 2008, at Arlington National Cemetery

James Kelly, Ruth Osmolski

Major General James Kelly presents a folded American flag to Ruth Osmolski, mother of Army Sergeant John Carl Osmolski,
Friday, Feb. 15, 2008, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery


Army Sgergeant John C. Osmolski's mother, Ruth Osmolski, is comforted by her pastor, the Rev. Dan Kerley, at Arlington National Cemetery.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/19/1984
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/05/2008

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