MCHENRY, IL, USA U.S. Army SGT, COMPANY E, 704TH COMBAT SUPPORT BATTALION, 4 BCT, 4 ID, FORT CARSON, CO FOB WILSON, AFGHANISTAN 11/23/2009
22-year-old Specialist Jason A. McLeod of Crystal Lake died November 23rd, 2009, west of Pashmul of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with mortar fire.
Family members say McLeod was deployed to Afghanistan in May and was due to come home on leave in less than a month. They say he was a mechanic who worked on Humvees. The 2006 graduate of Crystal Lake Central High School and his best friend, Brandon, enjoyed skateboarding, playing video games and camping, said Brandon’s mother, Robin Rogers. She said McLeod had hoped to go back to school.
Hundreds of students with somber faces gathered outside McLeod’s alma mater to pay their respects. He was remembered as a hero with a hometown connection. There was sadness surrounding Crystal Lake Central High School in the wake of the tragedy.
“Jason was just a hard-working student who dedicated himself not only inside the school, but outside. He dedicated himself to the work program and he had a presence about him that he had a direction in his life,” said Principal Steve Olson.
“In speaking to his teachers, they just recognized that through the course of time he showed a maturity that was beyond his years would indicate,” said Olson.
The 1,600 students at Crystal Lake Central had the option of participating today. Many of them had said they planned to come out in support of McLeod’s sister, Jacqueline, who is a sophomore at the school.
“Even if you don’t really know her, we came out to support her,” said student Christina Campbell. “It’s been sad here at school. Teachers are getting really emotional.”
“I’m here to show support for the people who fight for our country, ” said student Matt Dollahan. “I think it’s cool that even people from here will go out and fight for us.”
His mother-in-law, Julie Ghannam said “He joined the Army as a stepping stone to what he wanted to do. He was trying to make himself a life. He was a great person, he grew up young.”
Jason A. McLeod met his future bride, Aimee, when they were youngsters at day camp in Illinois, but they didn’t reconnect for about a decade. Then she was hooked. She said McLeod adored his 15-month-old daughter, Jocelyn Elizabeth, who saw him via a Web camera while he was deployed. He always kept a positive outlook and smiled even in tough times, she said, describing him as “the most wonderful man I ever met in my life.”