U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1022-07
September 17, 2007
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant John Mele, 25, of Bunnell, Florida, died September 14, 2007, in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit during combat operations. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
29 September 2007:
Sergeant John Mele, 25, viewed military service as a calling.
On Friday, he was killed in Arab Jabour, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated near his unit during combat operations.
Mele is survived by his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Clarissa, 6.
“He was a really great soldier, and the absolute greatest husband and father,” Jennifer Mele said. “He loved what he did, and he died doing what he loved best – being a soldier.”
A combat engineer, Mele was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Platoon, Echo Company, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart. He had spent the last five years in Fort Stewart,Georgia.
The Meles lived in Glennville, about 30 miles west of the Army post.
The couple bought a home there, and his wife's parents, Lloyd and Corene Jones, sold their home in Daytona Beach, Florida, and moved to Glennville to be closer while Mele was deployed.
Flags are flying at half-staff at several spots in Glennville. On Saturday, the day of a memorial service, the Glennville Chamber of Commerce will place flags on one of the city's main thoroughfares, something usually reserved for federal holidays.
“John had always wanted to be a soldier,” Jennifer Mele said. “In fact, he joined when he was 17 and underwent his training during his senior year, so as soon as he completed high school, he could begin actively serving. The Army was his chosen career; he simply felt led to serve his country.”
Mele was deployed to Iraq three times in his five years at Fort Stewart, his wife said.
The first deployment was for six months, the second for 13 months, and his last deployment was to have been for 15 months. He left May 7, 2007, shortly after watching daughter Clarissa graduate from pre-school.
“John and I met on Daytona Beach when Clarissa was only 10 months old, so to her, John has been her wonderful daddy. He adored her,” Jennifer Mele said.
John Mele grew up in Union City, Tennessee, where his father and stepmother, Mike and Linda Mele, still live today. He has two brothers, Michael and Nick Mele. His mother, Kim Gilzow, lives in Key Largo, Florida.
A memorial service will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Brannen Kennedy Funeral Home Chapel in Glennville. A reception will follow at Glennville United Methodist Church. Mele will be cremated, with his urn of ashes to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery September 27, 2007, with full military honors, his wife said.
Mele's grandfather, John William Mele, is buried there as well. He served in World War II and was retired from the military, Jennifer Mele said.
“John's grandfather just died four years ago, and John will be buried as close to him as possible,” she said.
19 September 2007:
A soldier stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, was killed during combat in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.
Sergeant John Mele, 25, died September 14 in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device detonation near his unit.
He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart,Georgia.
His wife, Jennifer, told the Savannah Morning News that her husband “was a really great soldier, and the absolute greatest husband and father.”
“John had always wanted to be a soldier,” she said. “The Army was his chosen career; he simply felt led to serve his country.”
The couple, along with their 6-year-old daughter, Clarissa, live 30 miles west of the Army post in Glennville. Flags are flying at half-staff at several spots in Glennville, and a memorial service is planned in the town for Saturday.
He will be cremated and his ashes will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on September 27, 2007, his wife said.
John Mele had left in May on a 15-month tour in Iraq, his third in his five years at Fort Stewart.
Jennifer Mele's parents, Lloyd and Corene Jones, sold their home in Daytona Beach, Florida, and moved to Glennville to be closer while Mele was deployed.
Mele's father and stepmother live in Union City, Tennessee. His mother lives in Key Largo, Florida.
21 September 2007:
A Henderson, Texas, native is the latest east Texan to fall in combat in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. 25 year old army sergeant Johnny Mele was killed September 14th in Iraq. He was leading his squad into a home when an I-E-D exploded. His family is remembering him as a patriot.
“Even as a kid I can remember him always wanting to be a soldier” said Johnny's uncle Frank Mele.
For 5 generations Mele's family has served in the armed forces. From his great great grandfather in the Civil War, his great grandfather in World War One, his grandfather, who torpedoed and sunk a Japanese cruiser in World War Two, to Johnny.
“I didn't believe it because he always said how safe he was, somehow you don't think it'll be your little grandson” said Johnny's grandmother , Ann Mele.
“He died believing in what he was doing believing it was right and he never wavered on it he was always 100 percent behind it” Frank says.
Mele's boyish looks concealed a tough-as-nails warrior who was committed to beating terrorism, he volunteered for a 3rd tour in Iraq.
“When it came to his service , a true soldier. Very dedicated” Ann says.
“And he's so brave and so tough and true hero” said Johnny's aunt Judy Mele.
His family is firm that his life wasn't wasted.
“He did things worth doing, he'll forever be missed by all of us” Judy says.
They're left only with his memory, and the thought that as long as there are men like Johnny Mele, we'll always have heroes.
“I feel if they're all like Johnny, that we're gonna win” Ann says.
Sergeant Mele leaves behind a wife and daughter. He will be laid to rest with honors at Arlington national cemetery on September 27, 2007.
22 September 2007:
People in Glennville are remembering a Third I.D. soldier who called their community home. Sergeant John Mele II died last week when a bomb went off near his convoy in Iraq.
Today the city is joining together to honor this soldier and his commitment for his country.
“John was just someone you always wanted to be around. He had those piercing blue eyes, he loved his family and he was the most wonderful husband to my little sister and he loved his country,” said Mele's sister in law Lyn Allebach.
The 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd I-D soldier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit on September 14th.
“He died for his country and he saved all the men in his unit. He died and they lived,” said Allebach.
And because of that, folks from the city of Glennville came out to honor the man, the husband and the soldier. His family was thankful for all the support.
“I've never seen my little sister in so much pain and grief. She loved that man with her life and her little girl also and I've never seen such an outpouring of community love and support,” said Allebach.
It didn't stop there.
Patriot Guard Riders Captain, Gene Altman, says his group was honored to come and stand outside in the rain in honor of Sergeant John Mele.
“We're not necessarily here because we believe in the war but we believe in the choices these American soldiers are making,” said Altman.
And so does John's family who loves the man who will always be a part of their lives.
“No one has anything but wonderful things to say about him. He was as good as they come at the age of 25,” said Allebach.
Sergeant Mele's family says he'll be buried Thursday with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery, where his grandfather is also buried.
Sergeant's Burial Has Echoes of Other Wars
Soldier Laid to Rest Near Grandfather
By Mark Berman
Couresy of the Washington Post
Friday, September 28, 2007
Army Sergeant John Mele served in the military like his grandfather and namesake. Although separated by half a century on the battlefield, they nonetheless remained connected in life through family, name and service to their country. Now, they will remain tied together in memory, buried nine gravesites apart at Arlington National Cemetery.
Mele, 25, of Bunnell, Florida, died September 14, 2007, in Arab Jabour, Iraq, after a makeshift bomb detonated near his unit during combat operations, the Defense Department said. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
“He was a really great soldier, and the absolute greatest husband and father,” his wife, Jennifer, told the Glennville Sentinel in Georgia. “He loved what he did, and he died doing what he loved best — being a soldier.”
Jennifer Mele, 27, told the Sentinel that her husband's squad was preparing to clear a house in Arab Jabour, and he warned others to stay back as he approached the building. A bomb detonated, and Mele was killed.
More than 110 mourners gathered at Arlington Cemetery yesterday to pay their respects. Maj. David Baum, an Army chaplain, described Mele as a “great husband” and “wonderful dad,” and spoke of “his courage and willingness to sacrifice” for his country. Mele was the 372nd military person killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.
“Fight to keep his memory alive,” Baum urged mourners.
After the service, flags were presented to Mele's widow and his parents, Michael Mele and Kim Gilzow.
Mele was not buried in Section 60, as so many of the soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan have been. Instead, he was buried in Section 12, surrounded by veterans of World War I and World War II, many of whom died decades before Mele was born. He was buried there to be close to his grandfather, who served in World War II and the Korean War, and died in May 2004, just short of his 80th birthday. He shares the gravesite with his daughter, Mary, who died in 1953, a day after being born.
The younger Mele spent part of his early years in Henderson, Texas, and moved to Union City, Tennessee, after his father was offered a job there. Mele lived in Glennville, Georgia, with his wife and their daughter, Clarissa, during some of the time he served at Fort Stewart.
Mele left for Iraq in May for the third deployment of his career. He began his military service with the Tennessee Army National Guard, having joined at 17 to begin training during his senior year in high school.
His father and stepmother, Michael and Linda Mele, still live in Union City. He also is survived by two brothers, Michael and Nick, and two half-siblings, Blake Northcutt and Jessie Breanne Northcutt.
Blake Northcutt, 20, is in the military and stationed in Louisiana, Mele's wife told the Sentinel. “John was the person who inspired him to join the service,” she said.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard