Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Boy, 6, Accepts Dad's Silver Star

Boy, 6, Accepts Dad's Silver Star

May 01, 2009
Salt Lake Tribune

WEST HAVEN, Utah -- Often, when the skies above Kanesville Elementary School are clear, children on recess can look up and see a fighter jet from nearby Hill Air Force Base slicing a sharp white contrail into the blue.

Some of those jets have cut similar trails across Afghan skies. And that's as close as most of this suburban school's students will ever come to the ongoing battle in south Asia.

But the war flew much closer to home on Wednesday. In a morning assembly before hundreds of teary-eyed students, a stoic 6-year-old named Jase Spargur accepted the Silver Star -- the U.S. military's third-highest medal for valor -- on behalf of his fallen father.

1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), was one of nine Soldiers killed when hundreds of Taliban guerillas armed with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars ambushed an Army outpost near the village of Wanat, near the Pakistani border, on July 13.

According to accounts from fellow Soldiers, the 24-year-old Army first lieutenant was responding to enemy fire from a relatively safe location when he learned that Soldiers in a nearby observation post were in trouble. He was killed while trying to ferry medical supplies and ammunition across a 100-yard stretch between the two positions.

Today, Jase's memories of his father are mostly just images. He recalls surfing together in Hawaii, where his father grew up. He remembers swimming together in the ocean. And he recollects playing video games together in the family's home.

"He used to throw me up into the air," Jase says. "We'd do all kinds of cool stuff like that."

Jase's mother, Lindsey Spargur, said her son has come to accept the death of his father, even if he still doesn't fully comprehend what happened. Wednesday's assembly, she said, gave her boy an opportunity to see their family isn't alone in the way they speak about his father -- or in the way they honor his sacrifice.

"Lieutenant Brostrom was a hero," said Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, commander of the Utah National Guard, who presented the medal to Jase in the school's gym. "And there are other heroes here with us today. Jase is one of them."

Principal Mel Hawkes said he didn't think twice when military officials approached him with an offer to present the award to Jase in front of the entire school. "We want our students to understand that this is not just something that happens on the news," he said. "This is something that affects us all."

Hawkes said all of the teachers in his school were asked to show their classes a video describing what had happened to Jase's father in preparation for the assembly. But as images of Jase and his father were projected onto a screen ahead of the presentation of the award, many of the students -- and their teachers -- broke into tears.

"That's good," Tarbet said. "I think it's good for them to understand."

For most, the assembly lasted a half-hour. For Jase, Tarbet noted, the loss will last his entire life.

That fact was not missed by 12-year-old Garrett Peterson.

Like most sixth graders, Peterson had never spent much time contemplating the nation's ongoing wars, let alone the cost. And he didn't know that a young boy from his own school had suffered the death of his father in battle.

"When I found out, I felt so bad for him, because I could understand how this would be so hard for me," Peterson said. "I couldn't live without my dad."

At least for a few moments, on Wednesday, the war had come home.

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At least this six year old will have the memory of receiving his Dads Silver Star in front of his school mates and knowing that is father is a real bonafide "Hero" in a world where the use of the term "hero" has become an over used description since 9-11, In Vietnam Lt Bostrom might have received the medal of Honor for his actions, there have been few and far between in these wars for the past 8 years, who knows he might have been nominated for it, and the Army brass down graded the award to the Silver Star. But a Bonze Star for valor and any award higher than that, Silver star, DFC, DSC, Soldiers Medal are for "hero's" and this 6 year old may not have a living father any longer, but he will know he has a father who died a "real hero".

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