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John W Dearing


At his parents’ house in Hazel Park, John Dearing looked at pictures of his only son John W. Dearing in his National Guard uniform and tried to come to grips with the grief that seized him in waves.

“I wanted to keep him home,” Dearing said as he looked at a photo of the young man the family called “J.W.”Dearing covered his face with his hand and fought back two deep sobs. “The world lost a perfect kid,” he said.

PFC John W. Dearing, 21, of Hazel Park was a gunner riding in a Humvee with five other soldiers when it ran over a land mine Monday in northern Iraq, killing him instantly. The other soldiers suffered serious burns over most of their bodies but survived.

J.W. was an honor student and athlete who graduated from Oscoda High School in 2003. His mother Kitty still lives there. “He was a good kid who graduated with all A’s and loved baseball and the Atlanta Braves,” she said.

They remembered how his favorite ballplayer was the Braves third baseman Chipper Jones and how he had just married his wife Amanda in June, starting out in a rented house on Garfield Street.

Amanda, a 2004 Hazel Park High School graduate, was with her parents at their house Tuesday, a short distance away from the Dearing clan. She remembered how she found out Monday that her young husband was dead.

“I was downstairs in the basement and my dad called me up to the living room,” said Amanda, 19. “I saw three National Guard officers standing there and I started bawling my eyes out. Nobody had to say a word. I knew right away.”

Tuesday brought memories for Amanda. She recalled J.W.’s great sense of humor and how they hit it off as soon as they met in September 2004. They got engaged a month later. Inside the house they shared in their brief married life, J.W. had trophies for baseball and track, she said.

“He was free spirited but he was serious when he was doing his job,” Amanda Dearing said.

Amanda will talk with a counselor today who deals with grieving families, she said.

“I’ve had a lot of support from family and friends,” she said. “I’m just trying to cope with the brutal reality of things.”

A small, undecorated Christmas tree sat on the dining room table where his grandmother Mary Lee gathered with some of her relatives. About a dozen pictures of J.W. were spread out on the table beneath the tree in the place where presents usually go. In the darkness outside her house, a porch light cast a circle of light and illuminated part of a yellow ribbon wrapped around a large tree.


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