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John T Self


Staff Sergeant John T Self is remembered as a fallen comrade, a friend, a man who laid down his life for others in the pursuit of peace. A kind hearted leader who gave his life in service to his country, for the good of decent Iraqi people and the advancement of peace in our time.

Sergeant Self, 29, of Pontotoc, Miss.; assigned to the 314th Security Forces Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.; died May 14, 2007, as result of enemy action near Baghdad. He was on his 79th combat patrol as a fire team leader with Detachment 3,732 Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, when an IED tore apart his Humvee.

He was on his 4th tour, volunteering for this one-year tour only weeks after returning from the previous. Sergeant Self spent more than 479 hours on combat patrols, confronting small arms fire, RPGs, snipers and IEDs. Despite the danger, Sergeant Self never hesitated to head outside the wire for the next mission.

“We were fortunate to draw some of the best airmen and NCOs our career field has to offer for this mission,” stated the Det 3 commander, “They were willing to step out of their comfort zone and tackle challenges unknown to most of their peers. Sergeant Self was probably one of our most extreme cases of that ‘special type.’”

His comrades remember him as a brother, friend and leader. “He could always find the humor in anything regardless of the situation,” said a member of his fire team. “He believed in everything he did.” His legacy will live on with those he led in combat.

A cousin commented “It’s hard to believe that a person his age could give so much for his country.” But he volunteered for more combat deployments than most Airmen will ever go on. His courage, displayed every time he stepped outside the wire with his team, is a shining example of the Air Force’s core value of “Service Before Self.”

A man who trusted in his Savior Jesus Christ and a warrior who just “wanted to serve his country”, Self was a 1998 graduate of South Pontotoc High School, where he played trumpet in the marching band. “He loved to deer hunt and fish and play computer games. He was a loving child. He was there for his family and friends.”

But his words succinctly capture his character, “We’re in countries where people don’t like us, and they would kill us the first chance they get. Besides, it’s my job to be in the heat of danger. Whether it’s looking for insurgents, guarding detainees, or sitting on a fence line, it’s all dangerous and can result in death. Every time I set foot into a compound, I was risking my life for my country. It is my job to serve my country to the best of my ability and die for it if I must.”

So rests one of Pontotoc’s favorite sons. “People are never going to forget John. He was a great person and great soldier.”


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