Jessy G. Pollard – Specialist, United States Army

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release


DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of 14 soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died August 22, 2007, in Multaka, Iraq, of injuries suffered when their helicopter crashed.

Killed were the following soldiers assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment, Fort Lewis, Washington:

Captain Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Georgia.
Chief Warrant Officer Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, North Carolina
Sergeant Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, California
Specialist Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Missouri

Also killed were the following soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii:

Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
Staff Sergeant Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, Califprnia
Sergeant Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas
Corporal Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Massachusetts
Corporal Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Illinois
Corporal Joshua S. Harmon, 20, of Mentor, Ohio
Corporal Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, California
Specialist Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania
Specialist Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Missouri
Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, 20, of Lincoln, Arkansas

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Group Burial Funeral Services: Friday, 24 October 2008: Arlington National Cemetery
PAUL J FLYNN, Chief Warrant Officer 2, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00
JASON L PATON, Staff Sergeant, USA POST CHAPEL 11:00

Honoring Fallen 14 With ‘Quiet Strength'

Four Black Hawk helicopters skimmed overhead against the backdrop of a gray, cloudy sky. Below, more than 150 people brought together by tragedy and united in grief gathered yesterday to pay tribute to 14 soldiers honored at Arlington National Cemetery.

The soldiers were killed August 22, 2007, in a helicopter crash in Multaka, Iraq. Each had been buried separately. But 14 months after the accident, which was caused by mechanical failure, family and friends bundled together on a chilly October morning for a group tribute.

The mourners followed a horse-drawn caisson bearing a single flag-cloaked silver coffin up Bradley Drive. The coffin was carried to Section 60 of the cemetery and placed amid a bevy of red, white and blue flowers.

As part of the service, folded flags were given to parents and siblings, widows and a best friend. Each flag was touched for a moment to the coffin before being handed to the loved ones of the fallen soldiers.

The soldiers were between the ages of 20 and 30 years old. They hailed from 11 states, spanning from California to Massachusetts.

Captain Corry P. Tyler, 29, of Woodbine, Georgia, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and had deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2006. Chief Warrant Officer 2 Paul J. Flynn, 28, of Whitsett, North Carolina, was a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot with a decade of service.

The eldest soldier, Sergeant Matthew L. Tallman, 30, of Groveland, California, was a tall, easygoing man and a devoted father, family members told the Los Angeles Times.

The youngest soldiers were Corporal Joshua S. Harmon, of Mentor, Ohio, and Specialist Tyler R. Seideman, of Lincoln, Arkansas, both 20. Harmon, a medic, had married his wife, Kristin, 84 days before his death, she told the News-Herald in Ohio. Seideman, who loved to joke, was a generous person who would “give you the shirt off his back if you needed it,” said his best friend, Jeremy Bolivear, at a memorial service honoring the soldier, according to the Morning News in Arkansas.

Specialist Rickey L. Bell, 21, of Caruthersville, Missouri, joined the military in 2005 after graduating from high school.

Tyler, Flynn, Tallman and Bell were assigned to the 4th Squadron, 6th U.S. Air Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Lewis, Washington.

Captain Derek A. Dobogai, 26, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was selfless, kind and too modest to boast about his accomplishments, his family said in a statement last year. “Therefore, we will honor him with quiet strength,” relatives said.

Staff Sergeant Jason L. Paton, 25, of Poway, California, was to be married November 18, 2007, family members told the Los Angeles Times. He had deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq before, and his second deployment to Iraq was scheduled to end three weeks after the helicopter crash.

Sergeant Garrett I. McLead, 23, of Rockport, Texas, liked surfing, skateboarding and playing soccer. He enlisted shortly after his birthday in May 2002 because of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to the Rockport Pilot.

Corporal Jeremy P. Bouffard, 21, of Middlefield, Massachusetts, was a jokester and a loyal, dedicated man who loved his wife Amanda, son Caleb and the Boston Red Sox. Nearly 1,000 mourners attended his funeral last year, according to the Boston Globe.

Corporal Phillip J. Brodnick, 25, of New Lenox, Illinois, was “the life of the party,” a friend wrote on the guest book of a Web site dedicated to his memory.

Corporal Nathan C. Hubbard, 21, of Clovis, California, was one of three brothers serving in Iraq. Marine Lance Corporal Jared Hubbard was killed in 2004, so Nathan and Jason Hubbard enlisted to honor their brother's sacrifice. Jason Hubbard was in the same platoon as Nathan and in a helicopter ordered to secure the crash site, according to CNN.

Specialist Michael A. Hook, 25, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, was excited to come home because his fiancee, Susan Fetterman, was pregnant, according to the Altoona Mirror. Mere weeks after the crash, she gave birth to their son, Mason.

Corporal Jessy G. Pollard, 22, of Springfield, Missouri, embraced and believed in what he was doing and would tell family members about jumping out of planes at night, they told the Associated Press.

Dobogai, Paton, McLead, Bouffard, Brodnick, Harmon, Hubbard, Hook, Pollard and Seideman were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Yesterday's burial brought to 447 the number of Iraq war casualties buried, memorialized or inurned at Arlington National Cemetery.

A 2003 graduate of Glendale High School was among 14 U.S. troops killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash Wednesday in northern Iraq.

Family members confirmed that Springfield native Jessy Pollard, 21, died in the crash.

“He was fighting for our American freedoms that we enjoy,” said Alan Dewitt, Pollard's stepfather in Ozark. “After high school, he really got into wanting to do that. He prayed about it a lot before he joined.”

Dewitt said his stepson was an Army Ranger aboard the UH-60 Black Hawk, one of two helicopters flying a nighttime mission.

Military officials said initial indications showed the helicopter experienced a mechanical problem and was not brought down by hostile fire. The cause of the crash was still under investigation.

Pollard's aunt, Sandy Kaufman of Springfield, recalled her nephew as “a very tall, good-looking young man” who was eager to pursue a career in the military.

“He was a paratrooper who jumped out of planes and stuff,” she recalled. “He said it was an adrenaline rush.”

Kaufman said Pollard didn't know what direction his life should take until he joined the military.

“He just really embraced it,” she said. “He'd come home and regale us with stories about jumping out of planes at night.”

In July, Pollard returned to Ozark for a two-week visit before heading back to Iraq.

“We hadn't seen him in six months, so it was good to have him back,” Dewitt said. “He was doing what he wanted to do.”

Pollard is survived by his mother, Patti Jo “Pj” Dewitt and sister Whitney Pollard, 19, among others.

Pollard played football and basketball at Glendale.

Amanda Orchard, who played softball with Pollard's sister at Glendale, remembered Pollard “as a real outgoing, fun guy.”

“I had classes with him; we talked,” she said. “He was a big, tall guy, real athletic.”

Orchard said she was proud that a Glendale graduate chose to serve in the military.

“I think that's awesome, if that's what they have the heart to do,” she said.

Lesley Noe, who graduated with Pollard, remembered his desire to do more than was asked.

“We both really liked ‘Romeo and Juliet,' and in one of our classes, we had to memorize 15 lines,” she said. “We decided to memorize 150 lines. He was really hard-working and always wanted to go above and beyond what you had to do.”

Glendale Principal Gary Prouty said the high school will have a moment of silence today — the first day of classes — to honor Pollard's memory.

J.J. Bullington, a middle school principal in Carruthersville, said she has known Bell since he was a child.

“I taught him swimming,” she said. “This is a real small community of about 7,000. Everybody knows each other.”

Bullington said Bell's family asked her to convey to the media that they “need space” and were not taking phone calls.

The first day of school at Glendale High in Springfield, Missouri looked and sounded like any other day…dimly lit hallways packed with students, teachers monitoring the groups of chattering teens. What made this day different was that it started with news that a 2003 graduate had been killed in Iraq the day before.

Most of the students weren’t around when Jessy Pollard was a student here but Tracy Bruton was.

She was his art teacher for three years. She says he had a special place in her heart.

“He really responded well to people who were genuine because he was genuine. He was who he was. He was just a lot of fun to be around. He just kind of had that, that look in his eye. There’s just enough orneriness to keep things interesting. I love that and so I did, I really, really did adore him.”

Jessy Pollard was also adored by his family and it’s evident in the photographs that hang on the walls of Jobie Goslee’s home. Jessy Pollard was Goslee’s oldest grandchild…in one of the photographs from a few years ago, he’s reclining on the floor decked out in a party hat, a huge smile on his face.

Goslee: “There’s a good one. That says Jessy’s raising cane, laying on my family room floor, smiling and enjoying being with the rest of his cousins.”

Shelton: “You can just see what fun he was having, huh?”

Goslee: “Yes. Can’t you see with that picture? That’s a good expression of how he was.”

Jessy Pollard had wanted to be a soldier for a long time and after high school he joined the army and volunteered for Ranger school. Physically, he was such a big guy, that he served as a back-up for the commanding officer of his platoon. He shipped out late last year and surprised his family just weeks ago when he came home for a short leave. Jobie Goslee knew when his grandson visited, he’d want to kid around about his height.

“I’m six, four and he was very tickled and rubbed it in to his granddad when he became taller than I. He had a lot of fun with that. Whenever he would come home, he’d kind of put his arm around my shoulder and say, ‘Hi, Grandad.’ And kind of look down at me you know? So, I’d remember that he was now taller than me.”

Sydney Croxdale says she was like a grandmother to Jessy Pollard. She was there for many of the “firsts” in his life. As she’s grieving, those are the moments that come to mind.

“For some reason we were keeping him for an evening and took him out and bought him his first ice cream cone. And managed to take home a chocolate ice cream-covered little boy who was very happy.”

Those who knew Jessy Pollard say he kept that happiness as he grew up. His high school art teacher, Tracy Bruton remembers him as an endearing young man, trying to find his place in the world.

“I think of that puppy, that big gangly puppy whose feet are too big. And eventually, he grows into those feet. And it sounds like…it sounds like, he grew into those feet and did it in a very, very good way.”

Jessy Pollard had been expecting to transfer to Hawaii in October and his family says he was thinking about becoming a career soldier.

 Patti Jo “Pj” Dewitt said her son, Jessy Pollard, was “a good-looking kid, the heartbreaker type” who loved God, sports and his country.


“I called him Sweet Boy, and he used to call me Momma,” Dewitt said at her son's funeral on Friday.

Pollard, an Army Ranger and 2003 Glendale High School graduate, died Aug. 22 when the UH-60 Black Hawk in which he was riding crashed due to an apparent mechanical problem during a nighttime mission in Iraq. He was 21. Thirteen others were on the helicopter.

“He loved the Army,” Dewitt said. “He loved what he did.”

Pollard's service was held at North Point Church, 3401 W. Norton Road, where he was a member.

“Our hearts grow and are heavy at the loss … but at the same moment our hearts are proud,” said North Point pastor Troy Hartman.

Nathan Teegarden said the 6-foot, 5-inch Pollard was his best friend, even though the two were exact opposites.

“He's tall, I'm short,” said Teegarden. “He could reach things in cabinets that I couldn't reach. I could fit in compact cars and he couldn't.”

Teegarden said the two went to school, laughed, prayed, read the Bible and played ping-pong and basketball together.

“The memories are going to hold me over … until I do see him in eternity,” he said. “Then we can make more memories together.”

Terry Bruton, Pollard's high school art teacher, said her former student was the most genuine person she has known.

“Jessy was who he was,” she said. “He didn't change to fit the individual or the situation.”

Dewitt said she knew of only two things that could have been worse than losing her son — having to watch him suffer or knowing he died before accepting Jesus Christ as his savior.

She said she expects to reunite with her son in heaven.

“He's home and he's waiting to see me,” Dewitt said. “I know the first thing I will hear is, ‘Hey, Momma.'”

The service began with a recording of the gospel hymn “Amazing Grace,” followed by Lee Greenwood's “God Bless the USA.”

Photos of Pollard from childhood to adulthood were displayed on large screens at the front of the sanctuary during the latter song.

Brig. Gen. Jack Sterling, assistant commandant of the Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard, gave Pollard's family two medals the soldier earned during his tour in Iraq — the Bronze Star medal for meritorious achievement and the Good Conduct medal for exemplary behavior.

Burial with military honors — including a 3-volley salute — at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery followed the church service.

One hundred members of the Patriot Guard, which includes members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, carrying a nearly equal number of U.S. flags, stood vigil outside the church during the service and served as an escort to the cemetery.

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