Jason Michael Meyer
Private First Class, United States Army
IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 9, 2003
DOD IDENTIFIES ARMY CASUALTIES
The Department of Defense announced today that Staff Sergeant Robert A. Stever, 36, of Pendleton, Oregon, was killed in action by enemy fire on April 8, 2003, in Iraq. Stever was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The Department of Defense also announced today that Private First Class Jason M. Meyer, 23, of Swartz Creek, Michigan, was killed in action on April 8, 2003, in Iraq. Meyer as assigned to B Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The incident remains under investigation.
Some 20 months after his death, Melissa Meyer can finally talk about her husband, Army Private First Class Jason Meyer, without crying.
Now she has to worry about his stepbrother, Jonathon Meyer, a military police officer who will go to Iraq about this time next year.
"I was doing good with (Jon) being in the Army until we knew he was going to Iraq," said Meyer of Clayton Township. "I'm hoping that in a year's time, things will calm down a little over there."
Army Pfc. Jason Meyer, a 1999 graduate of Howell High School, was killed April 7, 2003, in Baghdad.
Then just 19, Melissa Meyer became a widow. She moved from Hinesville, Ga., back to the home of her parents - John E. and Connie Arnould - in the Swartz Creek area. Jason lived in Swartz Creek for a time before enlisting in the Army in August 2001.
Melissa now works as a secretary for a pilot school at Bishop Airport and is halfway through her sophomore year at the University of Michigan-Flint, where she is majoring in secondary education.
All in all, she's doing well, she said.
"I'm not angry," she said. "It's not useful to be angry. It doesn't help you any. When Jason left, he knew it was what he wanted to do. He could have gotten out of it. There's nothing to be angry about there."
Jason had an injury that could have kept him home, but he chose to go to Iraq, anyway.
Melissa Meyer said she hasn't been back to Arlington National Cemetery since her husband's burial last year, but she plans to be there in February for the opening of a new soldiers' exhibit.
Jason's father and stepmother, Loren and Deborah Meyer, built a memorial to Jason in their yard in South Bend, Ind. The display includes a sign and a picture of him, Loren Meyer said.
"We have pictures of him all over our house," he said. "I want to see him every day."
Jonathon Meyer joined the Army National Guard in Indiana and recently completed basic training. His military police unit, based in Fort Carson, Colorado, has been activated to Iraq.
"We're very proud of the fact Jonathon has chosen to follow in Jason's footsteps," Deborah Meyer said. "It was kind of hard to see the word 'Meyer' on a uniform. But there's a lot of pride there. And we see the pride Jon is showing and feeling. And that had to be what Jason was feeling."
The Meyers said they support the military campaign in Iraq and don't harbor any anger.
Courtesy of The Washington Post:
Young Soldier, Husband, Son Laid to Rest
Private Killed by Friendly Fire Had Just Celebrated His First Wedding Anniversary
By Leef Smith
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
Army Private First Class Jason M. Meyer, 23, and his wife, Melissa, 20, marked their first wedding anniversary long distance March 30, 2003. He was in Iraq, she was in Georgia.
A week later, he was killed by U.S. friendly fire on the outskirts of Baghdad.
Yesterday, the couple's family and friends gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the young husband, son and soldier.
"Since the Civil War . . . this cemetery has been a place to say goodbye to the nation's heroes," Army chaplain Douglas Fenton told the weeping mourners. "Jason is someone who liked to help people. That is what he was doing near the end. . . . Today we're here to say goodbye to another American hero."
Clutching tissues, Melissa Meyer was presented with her husband's Purple Heart and Bronze Star awards. The couple met through a Masonic youth group in Michigan and moved to Fort Stewart, Georgia, where Jason Meyer was based with the Army's 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division.
The young widow was the first of several family members to approach the casket after the service. She touched her fingers to her lips and then brushed the polished wood.
Jason Meyer's mother, Kathleen Worthington, held tight to the U.S. flag presented to her by Army General Robert Griffin and sobbed uncontrollably at the sight of her son's coffin.
Worthington had worried that her family would not be able to attend the burial because they couldn't afford the trip to Washington. But last week, according to media reports in Michigan, she was presented with donations totaling more than $2,300 and an offer by U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) to pay for hotel accommodations for the family.
In an interview last week with the Associated Press, Worthington said her son's letters and calls from the Middle East were always positive. The last time she heard from him was Valentine's Day, when he telephoned from Kuwait City. He constantly sought to calm her fears, she recalled, adding: "He was always upbeat and happy. He was always a great kid."
Meyer graduated from Howell High School in 1999 and worked construction jobs before joining the Army in 2001. He drove an M113 armored personnel carrier.
A Pentagon source told The Washington Post that Meyer was killed April 8 by a U.S. tank round that blasted through a building at what is now known as Baghdad International Airport, ricocheted off a tank and struck him.
Yesterday, the young soldier was honored with the firing of a rifle salute and the sounding of taps, which brought more tears as its strains echoed across the cemetery under overcast skies.
Meyer's stepmother, Deb, knelt beside his casket and draped her arms across it in an emotional, final embrace.
21 April 2003:
17 April 2003:
A memorial was held Thursday in Michigan for a Fort Stewart soldier who was killed in Iraq.
Army Private First Class Jason M. Meyer died April seventh in Baghdad when the armored personnel carrier he was standing near was hit by mortar fire.
Hundreds of people attended a service today for 23-year-old Meyer at a funeral home in Genesee County's Grand Blanc Township, near Flint, Michigan.
Meyer's 19-year-old wife, Melissa, says the reality of her husband's death probably won't set in until she sees his body Saturday in Arlington, Virginia.
Family members say Jason Meyer will be awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart during a Monday burial ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery.
Meyer was assigned to Bravo Company, Eleventh
Engineers, Third Infantry Division.
16 April 2003:
On Tuesday, Newscenter 16 told the story of a local family who wanted to honor their fallen son, who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The family however, was not only emotionally drained by the loss, but was feeling the drain financially. So they, and Newscenter 16, ask Michiana to help pay some of the costs associated with their son’s funeral. What the community is doing to meet this need is truly overwhelming.
The Meyer family lost their son, Private Jason Meyers, as he was serving his country overseas. His one request was that he be buried with fellow military men in Arlington National Cemetery.
His family is honoring his request, but found out that the government does not help pay for parents travel to the funeral. So the family made a request to Newscenter 16, and WNDU made a request to the community: help the Meyers with the high cost of traveling to the ceremony on Monday.
The news spread quickly across the community, and the community responded just as quickly. Michiana residents responded and answered the call for this family in need.
Kevin Redding, of WOAR, said, “[Tuesday] night we saw the Meyer story on the news and just started talking about it [Wednesday] morning and before we knew it people just started calling incessantly just wanting to know how they can donate money…how they can help this family.”
There was the same response at the Red Cross, where Jeanette Simon had the good news that the Red Cross was “more than willing and able to take care of their needs immediately to get them there….We would go ahead and make the reservations for the hotel room, two night stay, we would go ahead and purchase the airline tickets and we would write travel vouchers for food or incidentals while they were out there.”
There was also a strong response from the general community. One individual offered to buy the plane tickets, and another offered to get the hotel reservations. One individual reportedly even said, “Just tell me how much it costs. I’ll write a check.” A number of other individuals gave what they could to help the family. A memorial fund set up for Jason generated over $2300 in less than 24 hours. Also, a few families are trying to find a dress blue uniform for the soldier's younger brother, who's in the Marine Junior R-O-T-C Program. He wants to give Jason a fitting farewell with the other soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.
The response has his family overjoyed, and very grateful. His stepmother, Deb Meyer, responded from a memorial mass in Michigan for the fallen soldier, saying, “It’s so wonderful. We're so pleased. We can go out there. We don't have to worry about how we're going to get there or how we're going to make up for what we had to pay to get out there.”
The Meyers will travel with the help of the Red Cross and the donations.
They say they'll use the extra donations to
set up a scholarship in their son's name.
15 April 2003:
Military family asks for help to say goodbye to son
After recently losing their son in the war with Iraq, a South Bend couple is planning to attend his memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Like many Americans in their position, financially times are tough and emotionally they are drained.
One week ago, Private Jason Meyer died from shrapnel wounds from a mortar tank during crossfire in Baghdad. His family plans to travel to the Arlington National Cemetery for his funeral on Monday but they say financially, times are tough.
The Meyers say it's important for their family to see Jason's final resting place. They are asking others in our community to reach out and help them in their time of need. It will help cover their traveling expenses and efforts to set up a memorial in his name.
Jason's stepbrother is in the junior ROTC program at Riley High School in South Bend. If the Meyers can find the money, they'll give the teenager a dress blue uniform so he can join the other soldiers for a final, fitting tribute to his brother at Arlington National Cemetery.
Deb Meyer, Jason's stepmother, is asking the community to only give whatever is in their hearts.
A memorial fund for the Meyer family is set up at the:
Teacher's Credit Union in South Bend
From a press report: 11 April 2003:
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA -- The American flag flies at half-staff outside the Greenwood Drive home of Loren and Deb Meyer. It's a subtle symbol of the pain felt inside the home.
The couple was notified at 6 a.m. Wednesday that Loren's son and Deb's stepson, Army Private First Class Jason Meyer, was killed Monday, 7 April 2003, in Baghdad. Jason's mother and stepfather, Kathleen and Chris Worthington, live in Howell, Mich.
The circumstances of how Meyer, 23, died were still unclear Wednesday afternoon, said Deb Meyer.
He apparently was driving an armored personnel carrier when it was struck by a grenade, either fired by Iraqis or possibly from another American vehicle, she said. He is believed to have died of injuries caused by shrapnel from the exploding grenade.
"Jason had literally hundreds of friends and relatives this has affected," Deb Meyer said.
Loren and Deb Meyer, who have for weeks watched network war coverage, found themselves opening their home to local reporters and television cameras Wednesday.
"I had so hoped to catch a glimpse of him," Loren Meyer said of the hours he spent channel surfing the news channels before his son's death.
Jason Meyer, who turned 23 on March 14, 2003,joined the Army on October 29, 2001, less than two months after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Deb Meyer said that "9/11 was what finally pushed him over the top and finally made him decide to join. It was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak."
Jason Meyer had been involved in construction for a time after his 1999 graduation from Howell High School but wanted to "get his life in order" and serve his country, she said.
"He knew when he enlisted there was a good chance there would be a war and that he'd be involved," Deb Meyer said. "But he wanted to do his part for America; he wanted to be there."
He was a member of the 11th Engineering Battalion of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. His unit deployed to Kuwait on January 13, 2003, and then took part in the invasion of Iraq.
Jason Meyer was married March 30, 2002. His widow, the former Melissa Arnould, 20, lives near Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia.
Deb Meyer said the last time family members here saw Jason was last Halloween in Howell. He had just been issued his Army camouflage outfit and was in good spirits, she said.
She said family members talked to Jason's mother Sunday and were told that he was fine and was temporarily bivouacked at the former Saddam International Airport, which had just been captured by Army units.
They received their last letter from him March 28, 2003. It was dated March 5, 2003. At the time, his unit was about 30 miles from the Iraq-Kuwait border, waiting for the invasion to begin.
In his last letter home, Jason described what it was like driving an armored personnel carrier. His father is a former heavy-equipment operator.
"He said it was like driving a bulldozer without a blade," Deb Meyer recalled. "He kind of grew up around heavy construction equipment."
The family grew up in Howell, Michigan, midway between Detroit and Lansing. Loren and Deb and Jason's stepbrothers, Jon and Chris, moved to Michiana three years ago.
Loren and Deb worked for Chateau Communities, running the Twin Pines Mobile Home Park in Goshen, for two years. They moved to South Bend's southeast side last May.
Jason Meyer loved the outdoors, including hunting, and enjoyed motorcycle trips, his widow said. Mrs. Meyer said family members will honor Jason's wish to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. That will be done after services in Howell.
Loren Meyer said he works with an Iraqi-American at Robert Weed Plywood in Bristol and the man recently told him how happy he was that the U.S. was apparently bringing down Saddam Hussein's regime.
"He was so happy to be able to go back home." Loren Meyer said. "He felt if he had gone back before this he would have been killed by Saddam for abandoning his country."
That conversation between co-workers seems to now bring some peace to a grieving father.
"The only thing I want to get across to people
is to support the troops and support President Bush," Loren Meyer said.
"These young men and women are putting their lives on the line and we need
to support them."
9 April 2003:
A South Bend man is among the latest to lose a son to the fighting in Iraq. Loren Meyer lost his 23-year-old son, Army Private Jason Meyer, yesterday in a friendly fire incident.
While Jason is a native of Howell, Michigan, Meyer's father and stepmother both live in South Bend. Loren and Deb Meyer are natives of Michigan as well but have lived in Michiana for the past three years, first in Goshen and now in South Bend.
Last October, just before he left for the Middle East, Jason Meyer made a special trip to visit his family. Loren Meyer says he had a strange feeling about the last time he saw his son. "I always had a gut feeling when we saw him it would be the last. That's been really hard."
The personnel carrier driver enlisted in the Army knowing full well he was doing so at a very dangerous time. "He joined October 29th of 2001 just shortly after the 9-11 attack. He was just very proud to be serving his country, " said step mom Deb.
"We got word Sunday that his unit was at the airport and the had taken some fire but Jason was okay. Then just 30-hours later, he was gone."
Last month, while fighting in the Middle East Jason marked his 24th birthday and his first wedding anniversary.
"We know Jason died doing what he wanted to be doing serving his country and we know that he did that proudly. Wore that uniform proudly."
Before being sent to the Middle East he was stationed at Fort Stewart Georgia with his 20-year old wife Melissa.
MEYER, JASON MICHAEL
PFC US ARMY
VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/01/2001 - 04/08/2003
DATE OF BIRTH: 03/14/1980
DATE OF DEATH: 04/08/2003
DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/21/2003
BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 7868
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Posted: 11 April 2003 Updated: 16 April 2003 Updated: 17 April 2003 Updated: 21 April 2003 Updated: 22 April 2003 Updated: 3 May 2003 Updated: 8 May 2004 Updated: 19 December 2004 Updated: 28 August 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 14 May 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 24 April 2004