John D. Rode – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASES from the United States Department of Defense

February 18, 2007

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three Soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died February 14,2007, in Baqubah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

Sergeant John D. Rode, 24, of Pineville, North Carolina

Sergeant Carl L. Seigart, 32, San Luis Obispo, California

Specialist Ronnie G. Madore Jr., 34, of San Diego, California

Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel
22 February 2007

All John D. Rode wanted was to become a U.S. citizen and fight for his adopted country. He was able to accomplish only one in life.


John Rode poses with his father, Tom, at boot-camp graduation in 2001.
Canadian-born Rode carried on his family's military tradition

The 24-year-old Army Sergeant died on Valentine's Day in Iraq when a roadside bomb obliterated his truck.

But the Canadian-born soldier, who had taken steps toward becoming a citizen, is expected to be laid to rest next week at Arlington National Cemetery — as an American. Services are tentatively set for Wednesday.

Getting his citizenship was “one of the first things his parents asked the [Army] bereavement officer,” said his aunt, Catherine Brooks. Found among his personal papers at his parents' home in Lake Mary was contact information for immigration officials.


John Rode (right) and his cousin Max Brooks play at Max's family's home in Lake Mary when Rode was on leave at Christmas

Since the U.S. began military action following the terrorist attacks in 2001, 58 soldiers have received citizenship posthumously, according to the Department of Defense.

Applications are fast-tracked under defense and immigration policies. The aim is to have an official certificate granting citizenship ready at the funeral of the fallen soldier, said Leslie Lord, the Army's liaison officer to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.

Rode, who moved to the U.S. in 1999, came from a military tradition. His father, Tom, served in the Canadian air force for 25 years.

“He bled Army green,” said his uncle, Eddie Brooks. “He literally was born to be a soldier. There's no other thing in this world that he could have done better.”

It was during his last leave around Christmas that Catherine Brooks teased Rode about completing his citizenship. Rode joked back that he had been a little busy.

Indeed, Rode was in his second tour of Iraq as part of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division based at Fort Hood, Texas. His first deployment had been for 15 months in Baghdad.

His latest, which began in October, was in Baqouba, Iraq, as part of a rapid-response unit that rode to the rescue of troops in trouble. He drove a heavy-duty truck designed to drag or haul damaged military vehicles off the battlefield.

His truck was blown out from under him twice in the weeks before he was killed, Eddie Brooks said. Rode emerged unscathed after the first attack, though his truck was thrown 30 feet off the ground. Rode suffered a concussion and took shrapnel in his leg in a second attack Jan. 20.

After each attack, Rode welded armor plates onto his vehicle to provide himself and his men additional protection, his uncle said. But on Feb. 14, even the additional armor could not protect Rode and two other soldiers killed by a roadside bomb as they raced to the aid of their comrades.

Family described Rode as an easygoing guy who loved to play with his young nieces and nephews. Members of the close-knit family, who live in Mississippi and North Carolina as well as Central Florida, made sure to travel to Lake Mary when Rode was home on leave, Catherine Brooks said.

Since his death, his family has learned of the strong bonds Rode created in the little time he spent in Central Florida. He had become friends with the staff at Fast Break Billiards in Longwood and endeared himself to everyone.

“He was just a person you felt comfortable with,” said Rick Davis, who handles security at the pool hall. “He was human when he came back [from Iraq], not edgy about the war.”

Even with strangers, Rode showed unexpected compassion.

Just before Christmas, Rode accompanied his uncle to a class on Kumdo, Korean martial-arts fencing. He noticed one of the students had hurt his wrist and was struggling with warm-up exercises. Without being asked, Rode left and returned with a bandage and wrist brace.

Seung Hag Woo said the unexpected kindness exploded a negative stereotype he had held. He concedes that he was intimidated when he first spied Rode with his pale complexion, buff build and close-cropped hair.

“I thought he was a skinhead,” Woo said.

But Rode's kindness at their lone meeting will have a long-term effect.

“It kind of broke a barrier in my mind,” Woo said. “That's a pretty awesome experience.”

In addition to his father; stepmother, Cheryl; and aunt and uncle, Rode is survived by three sisters, Peggy Rode-Storey of Pineville, N.C., and Kelly Rode and Julie Green, both of Canada.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 06/04/1982
  • DATE OF DEATH: 02/14/2007


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