Jonathan D. Grassbaugh – Captain, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense
April 10, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.They died April 7, 2007, in Zaganiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit.They were assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Killed were:

Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hampstead, New Hampshire
Specialist Ebe F. Emolo, 33, of Greensboro, North Carolina
Specialist Levi K. Hoover, 23, of Midland, Michigan
Private First Class. Rodney L. McCandless, 21, of Camden, Arkansas

13 April 2007:

Their story began on her first day at the Johns Hopkins University, the day Jenna Parkinson, a freshman, met Jonathan Grassbaugh, an intimidating senior and the battalion commander in the ROTC program she joined.

It ended nearly six years later on a spring day at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when Parkinson – now Jenna Grassbaugh – learned that just 10 months after getting married, she is now a widow.

“When I saw the two of them at my door, I just thought it had to [be] something else,” said Jenna Grassbaugh, 22, a first-year law school student at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“I just wanted them to tell me he was hurt and not gone. Anything.

“Anything to not be what it was,” she said.

Army Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hampstead, New Hampshire, was killed Saturday in Zaganiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated as he conducted a combat logistics patrol, according to the Department of Defense.

He was one of four casualities, all soldiers assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg.

An Army Ranger, Grassbaugh earned a Bronze Star and numerous other awards.

Quiet yet confident, deliberate and a leader, Grassbaugh was the kind of soldier who flew Pizza Hut pizza from 100 kilometers away to where his troops were conducting combat operations.

“That single act raised the entire Squadron’s moral and made up for us missing Thanksgiving and Christmas,” wrote Ray Edgar, a squadron command sergeant major, in a remembrance piece.

He was the kind of husband who mailed his Valentine’s Day card especially early, arriving in his wife’s mailbox more than a week ahead of time, even though it came from Iraq.

“It was one of the nicest things he ever sent me,” said Jenna Grassbaugh, who has deferred her active duty service until after completing law school. “He was talking about how he couldn’t wait to come home and to be with me, and that we were going to have a family and grow old together with our family. … We really wanted just to love each other forever.”

Grassbaugh was raised in East Hampstead, New Hampshire, and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, said Jason Grassbaugh, 29, his brother.

He enrolled at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 1999 and joined the ROTC, eventually becoming a cadet battalion commander as a senior. At Hopkins, he was also a member of the Pershing Rifles, a military fraternity.

The military was in his blood. His father was in the Army, and his brother is a surgeon at Fort Lewis, Washington.

“He was physically and mentally tough,” said Rimas Radzius, 26, who graduated from Johns Hopkins in 2004 and was in the ROTC with Grassbaugh.

“He could always outthink anybody,” he added. “He was one of the ones who made me decide to go into the Army. He’s a big reason why I joined, to be around guys like him.”

Radzius is now a battalion intelligence officer at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, with the 101st Airborne Division.

An Army Ranger who was the son of Hampstead Middle School’s principal was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq.

Jonathan Grassbaugh, 26, was killed late last week and Patti Grassbaugh learned of his death April 7, 2007. He was her youngest son.


Cpt. Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, 25, of East Hampstead, N.H

Students at the school were notified of the death.

“Mrs. Grassbaugh has requested that the family be given the time to mourn and to just keep her family in your thoughts and prayers,” a letter from Owen Harrington, assistant principal, said on the school’s Web site. The letter also was sent home with students.

Jonathan Grassbaugh was sent to Iraq for the second time earlier this winter after a brief visit with his family. His father, Mark Grassbaugh, who was also a Ranger, was away on business when his mother received the news.

Jonathan Grassbaugh attended Hampstead Central School and graduated from Hampstead Middle School. He went on to Phillips Exeter Academy and then to Johns Hopkins University, where he was a member of ROTC and graduated as an Army officer, The Eagle-Tribune reported.

He was married last summer. His wife is also an ROTC officer.

“Jonathan was a really great kid,” said Dillard Collins, Central School principal. “I’ve dealt with a lot of kids in my years, and Jonathan was in the top 1 percent. Not only was he smart and an extremely nice kid, he was highly motivated and fully understood the concept of duty and honor, as does his entire family.”

At Hampstead Middle School, school board chairman Natalie Gallo said she cried when she heard of the death.

It is such a shame, such a waste of such a very intelligent and lovely young man,” she said. “I am heartbroken for Patti and Mark.”

14 April 2007:

An Army Ranger killed in Iraq will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh, 25, was one of four soldiers killed April 7,2007, by an improvised explosive device in Zaganiyah, Iraq.

Grassbaugh was born in Ohio but moved to New Hampshire in 1989. He attended Hampstead public schools and graduated from Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was a four-year honor student, and Johns Hopkins University.

He was serving his second tour in Iraq and was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Grassbaugh’s mother, Patti, is the principal at Hampstead Middle School.

Calling hours will be held Tuesday from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. at St. Anne’s Church, 26 Emerson Ave. in Hampstead. A funeral Mass will be held Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. in St. Anne’s Church.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to The Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank, 45 S. Broadway, Salem, New Hampshire 03079. The fund will benefit the Johns Hopkins University ROTC Program, Phillips Exeter Academy and the Hampstead Educational Foundation.


Courtesy of the New Hampshire Union Leader

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

During one particularly cold and muddy night in January, somewhere near Balad, Iraq, Army Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh approached his commanding officer, to let him know he needed to use his unit’s two helicopters for a quick errand.

“I’m going to get pizza,” Grassbaugh told Major Townley Hedrick.

Standing outside St. Anne’s Church yesterday afternoon in a bone-chilling drizzle, Hedrick recalled how the young Captain did just that. Grassbaugh was not ordinarily in charge of delivering pizzas, but that night he determined the unit — in the middle of a major operation — needed a morale boost. So, he flew to the nearby major Balad operating base, where a small Pizza Hut outlet was located, picked up 60 pies — not to mention the usual list of vital supplies he was actually usually in charge of securing — and personally delivered them to the 430 men in his unit.

Grassbaugh, 25, formerly of Hampstead, was killed April 7, 2007, by a roadside bomb, while on patrol in Zaganiyah, Iraq. An Army Ranger, he was member of the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Hedrick, the squadron’s executive officer, said Grassbaugh was one of several captains under his direct command, and certainly the one who helped him hold the unit together.

“Professionally, he was the smartest and most competent guy that I’ve had a chance to work with in 15 years in the Army,” Hedrick said yesterday. “On a personal level, out of all the other captains on the staff, he was kind of the center of gravity.” There was no one else to call to get the job done as well as Grassbaugh could do it, Hedrick said, and when it came for a little morale boosting, it was Grassbaugh who came up with the best ideas — like having pizza delivered in the middle of a war zone.

“He was just in tune with what all the guys needed,” Hedrick said. “He had the perfect mix of a sense of urgency and a sense of humor, which is so important to have in the Army.”

Hedrick was home in the United States, recovering from surgery, when he received word that Grassbaugh had been killed.

Yesterday, he was with Grassbaugh’s family members during visiting hours at St. Anne’s Church in Hampstead, where hundreds of community members attended the visiting hour The funeral service begins at 1:30 p.m. today at St. Anne Church in Hampstead.

Tomorrow, Capt. Grassbaugh will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Amid a sea of American flags and military brass, hundreds of people gathered Wednesday to celebrate the life of Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh.

Grassbaugh, 25, an Army Ranger who was killed by a roadside bomb April 7, 2007, in Iraq, was remembered by family and friends as an exceptional leader, a loving husband, son and brother, and a great friend.

“He laid down his life for us and for his country, and we are grateful,” said the Rev. Frederick Pennett during the funeral Mass at St. Anne’s Catholic Church. “For there is no greater love than this. Jonathan’s story and his memory will go on forever.”

He said the story of Grassbaugh borrowing a helicopter to fly to get 60 hot pizzas for his men who had been in a nine-day siege typified the kind of man he was | a tremendous leader who supported his men and always made sure they were taken care of.

“Thank you captain,” Pennett said, “for who you are and who you have been and for your love of family, friends and country.”

Brigadier General Michael Ferriter, a top adviser to the U.S. military commander in Iraq, called Grassbaugh his friend and comrade. He met Grassbaugh during the young captain’s first tour in Iraq when Grassbaugh was picked to be Ferriter’s aide-de-camp, an honor reserved, Ferriter said, for the “very best of the best.”

Ferriter continued, his voice cracking, “Jon was perfect. I couldn’t have been more fortunate than to have served with this exceptional man. He made me a better leader and a better man.

“Jon led a selfless life and his love was unconditional for his family. He was simply as good as it gets; he was the best; a warrior, friend, comrade, loving husband and caring son.”

Jenna Grassbaugh, Jonathan’s wife of 10 months, spoke strongly of her love for her young soldier husband, saying she is “beyond heartbroken,” with no idea how she can go on without him. She said he had such a huge impact on so many people and accomplished so much in such a short time.

“I can’t believe you are gone,” she said. “You are my everything | my other half, my husband, my angel. I am so sorry I never got to say good-bye. I wish we had had more time together.”

Grassbaugh’s older brother, Jason, also an Army captain, called his brother his best friend.

“He was a loving husband, a special brother, a loving son and grandson and an excellent soldier,” he said.

“God must have had a great need in His Kingdom for someone with Jonathan’s skills,” he said. “Rest easy my brother. Thank you. We will miss you.”

More than three dozen Patriot Guard Riders with American flags flying formed a line across the St. Anne’s parking lot at the beginning of Wednesday’s ceremony. The New Hampshire Military Forces Honor Guard stood at attention at the church steps, flanked by members of the military and a line of Hampstead firefighters and police officers, all saluting as the Grassbaugh family arrived for the service.

Inside the packed church, Grassbaugh’s body lay in state, guarded by members of the Army Rangers from the 82nd Airborne Division. The overflow crowd was accommodated downstairs in the church hall, where they watched the service on television.

Among those attending the service were the teachers, staff and administrators from the Hampstead schools, along with many former district personnel. Grassbaugh attended Hampstead Central School and graduated from Hampstead Middle School, where his mother, Patricia, is the principal.

The town was represented by the selectmen, School Board members and other town officials. From the state level came Governor John Lynch, along with a number of the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Lynch said while he had not had the privilege of meeting Grassbaugh personally, from all he heard about him it was his loss. He called Grassbaugh an exceptional young man who was committed to serving people, and had a natural ability to lead.

“Jonathan touched many lives, and he was a hero and will take his place along with other heroes at Arlington National Cemetery and he will have a place in the hearts of the people of New Hampshire,” Lynch said. “We can’t repay the debt we owe to Jonathan or to his family.”

Grassbaugh’s death came just 14 months after Hampstead resident Matthew Bertolino was killed when his Humvee rolled over while he was on combat patrol with the Marines in Afghanistan.

State Sen. Robert Letourneau, R-Derry, said to have lost two such fine young men is hard for a small community like Hampstead, but he expressed pride at the outpouring of gratitude by the community as more than 500 people came out to support his family and pay their last respects.

“The Grassbaugh family is the ‘All-American Family’ and they have done everything right, but this is a heavy price to pay,” he said.

At the end of the ceremony, the coffin carrying Grassbaugh’s remains was borne out of the church by the Rangers. The flag-draped coffin was placed in the hearse for the journey back to Brookside Chapel and Funeral Home in Plaistow, escorted by a contingent of a dozen Patriot Guard Riders. From there, the body, accompanied by his brother and his wife, will be flown to Washington this morning for a 3:30 p.m. burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

As the procession departed, Gov. Lynch offered a few final words. “It is a sad situation. Jon was an outstanding leader with resolution, caring and compassion. There is a void in the state and in all of our hearts.”

8 June 2008:
By Terry Date

Courtesy of the Eagle Tribune

Inside, students and the Army captain’s widow sang.

Outside, the crowd blew bubbles and caged white doves took flight.

Yesterday’s ceremonies, less formal than sweet, more joyous than grim, remembered fallen Army Ranger Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh at the dedication of the East Hampstead Post Office.

The event took place inside the Hampstead Middle School gym. Students there had prepared a petition, which led to legislation that made the dedication possible. Grassbaugh had attended the middle school, and his mother is its principal.

Yesterday’s most emotional moment was Jenna Grassbaugh’s song.

Rather than speak, the soldier’s wife sang. It was the same choice she’d made at their wedding in June 2006, months before the 25-year-old was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq.

At her wedding, in a small Cape Cod town, Jenna Grassbaugh sang “A Moment Like This.”


Yesterday, she sang “I Wonder,” putting her words to the melody. They included, “When they took your life, they took mine, too.”

Many people raised their hands to their eyes and wiped tears.

Hundreds filled the room, among them the family of Grassbaugh, and close friend Jacob Sotiriadis. U.S. Senator John Sununu, Governor John Lynch, and state Senator Bob Letourneau, R-Derry, also attended.

Making the family’s address was Sotiriadis, who is in the Air Force.

He said he and Grassbaugh had a friendly Army and Air Force rivalry, and Grassbaugh would have raised an eyebrow and remarked wryly at the choice of speakers: “That’s great, having an Air Force guy make the address.”

He and Grassbaugh grew up in Hampstead. They had walked the school’s halls, rode bikes on Emerson Avenue and, later, trained for the military by running the three miles between each other’s homes.

“Jonathan, you were my best friend, and now you are my hero,” Sotiriadis said.

Grassbaugh served two tours in Iraq. His unit still hasn’t gotten over his death, April 7, 2007, in Zaganiyah, Iraq, his friend said.

Middle school students honored Grassbaugh through music.

The seventh and eighth-grade band played “Omaha Beach March,” Class of 2007 middle school officer Alanna Thompson sang the national anthem and the seventh- and eighth-grade chorus harmonized on “America the Beautiful.”

Grassbaugh, himself, had played slide trombone in the middle school band.

After middle school, Grassbaugh attended Phillips Exeter Academy before graduating from John Hopkins University, where he met his wife.

Hampstead Middle School Class of 2008 President Michael Greenlaw gave the student address, saying Grassbaugh had blazed a trail and left deep footprints for them to follow.

“He was one of our own,” he said.

The school’s Military Support Club has mailed numerous packages to soldiers in Iraq from the East Hampstead Post Office, said club member Miranda Ronan.

The post office is now one of several in the state to have been dedicated. A plaque will be mounted in its lobby, noting its new name, the Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh Post Office.

At yesterday’s ceremonies, dignitaries including Sununu and Jenna Grassbaugh withdrew a blue Postal Service cover, revealing the plaque.

Grassbaugh had served as an intern in the office of the senator, who made yesterday’s keynote address.

“Everyone saw the energy, talent and sense of purpose,” Sununu said.

Lynch recognized the pain the family has felt in their loved one’s absence, but noted his enduring influence on others.

“His life is a valuable example for all others to follow,” Lynch said.

The celebration concluded behind the gym in sunshine. Birds chirped and trilled from trees in the distance.

Students handed soap water-filled tubes to the crowd, and they filled the air with tiny bubbles that drifted willy-nilly.

Bells tolled from a building nearby as Franklin Estabrook released 13 doves — a single dove followed by two larger groups.

The two flocks beat their wings and cut sweeping arcs in opposite directions before they rendezvoused high above the front of the school. The single dove joined them and they flew south, bound for home in Wilmington, Massachusetts.

While collecting the empty cages, the doves’ tender said that he was surprised by the organized way the group came together.

“Once you put them in the sky, they do their own thing,” he said.

Grassbaugh’s father, Mark, said afterwards that his son would have appreciated the well-organized ceremony.

“He was a stickler for things to be the way they were suppose to be,” he said.

Jonathan Grassbaugh
Members of the honor guard carry the remains of Army Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, April 19, 2007
Jonathan Grassbaugh, Jenna Grassbaugh
Jenna Grassbaugh, left, clutches the flag during burial services of her husband, Army Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh, at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, April 19, 2007
Jonathan Grassbaugh
Members of the firing party take part in the burial services of Army Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, April 19, 2007



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 08/18/1981
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/07/2007

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