The Charlotte Observer
Local News Posted on Sun, Apr. 23, 2006
Bombing in Iraq kills N.C. Marine
By: GREG LACOUR
This was supposed to be the last deployment.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jason Ramseyer had already returned safely from a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan.
Now he was in Iraq, in charge of a squad providing security for the battalion commander. He hoped he could finish his tour by October and return home to his wife, Mandy, whom he'd known since their high school days in Lenoir, and their daughters, ages 3 and 2.
On Tuesday, in what would be their last conversation, Ramseyer talked about his plans with Mandy, back at base in Hawaii. She told him she'd been with him for nine years and gone wherever he had gone, and she was prepared to keep doing that.
On one condition: that his next assignment keep him home. "That's all I wanted," she said Saturday.
Mandy Ramseyer was still in shock Saturday. She was two days into the news. Jason Ramseyer was killed Thursday when the device he was checking along a road in Anbar province exploded, wounding two other Marines under his command. He was 28.
"There's no way," said Mandy Ramseyer, also 28, "to put it into words."
Jason Ramseyer, a 1996 graduate of West Caldwell High School in Lenoir, will be buried sometime this week in Arlington National Cemetery after services in Lenoir, Mandy Ramseyer said. The details are incomplete.
He was born in West Palm Beach, Fla., but moved to Lenoir with his parents in 1990, before he started middle school. His mother, Cindy Hicks of Claremont, said he was a perfect child: The only time Jason ever got into trouble was as a teenager, when he was caught fishing without a license.
It became clear during his high school years that Jason, though small, was a competitor. He excelled at wrestling, soccer and especially baseball, and he pushed himself to excel at everything he tried, his family and an old teammate said.
"When he did something, he wanted to do his best," said Joe Greer, who was two years behind Jason at West Caldwell and played with him on the baseball team.
Even then, Jason talked about the Marines. More than that -- it was almost all he could talk about. He pre-enlisted, Hicks said, and two weeks after graduation was off to basic training.
"It was amazing to me, for someone in high school to be so excited about being in the Marines, with people telling you what to do and where to go and everything. That's kind of like the opposite of what you want in high school," Greer said. "And that's what amazed me, when I'd run into him later, that it was everything he'd wanted it to be."
Jason's family agreed: He loved the Marines. Hicks thinks it may be because her son grew to only 5 feet 7 inches, and he felt a need to prove his toughness. Whatever the reason, he'd found his calling.
"If you look up `Marine,' " Mandy Ramseyer said, "you'll see him."
His last deployment began March 9. His job was to lead a squad escorting Lt. Col. Norm Cooling, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, from place to place in Iraq. He took the job seriously, as he did everything else, Mandy said.
A Marine Corps major told her the squad had just dropped Cooling off at a meeting and was headed back to base when Jason got out of his Humvee to check an object in the road, as he had dozens of times before. If he suspected a bomb, he'd call a bomb squad.
This time, he never got the chance. The device was remote-controlled, and Jason didn't even have time to take cover.
Hicks, who works as a paralegal in Hickory, got an urgent call from her husband that afternoon. He told her to come home immediately.
When she arrived, she knew. Two Marines were waiting. Her son had told her: If Marines ever show up at your door, it doesn't mean I'm injured.
She thought, too, about what he'd told her and Mandy before his deployment to Afghanistan. He was packing, and he insisted on showing them the precise spot on his uniform for each of his 10 medals. Neither woman wanted to hear it or even think about it.
But Jason said: No, you need to know where the medals go in case something happens.
Hicks hoped with everything she had that she'd never have to apply the lesson.
Jason was her only child.
"I know there's got to be a special reason why (God) took him from me and his babies," Hicks said. "But he was a Marine, and he was very proud, and that was his job."
Marine Corps News
Hawaii-based Marine unit mourns loss of warrior, leader, father
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story by: Computed Name: Sgt. Roe F. Seigle
HADITHA, Iraq (April 27, 2006) -- Staff Sgt. Jason C. Ramseyer will be remembered for the countless sacrifices he made for his brethren Marines.
His final sacrifice came when he was killed April 21, 2006, by an improvised explosive device while on a convoy in Haditha in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province.
Ramseyer, 28, was honored by his fellow Marines during a memorial service at the Haditha Dam here April 23.
The Lenoir, N.C., native was remembered as a committed leader and devout family man by those who served with him.
“He was by far the greatest leader of Marines I have ever had the honor of working for,” said Sgt. Michael Ferguson, 23, platoon sergeant assigned to 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
The Hawaii-based “America’s Battalion” arrived in Iraq about six weeks ago to replace another Marine battalion conducting security operations in this region along the Euphrates River.
Ramseyer was the platoon commander for the battalion’s Forward Command Post, also known as the “Jump CP.” His job often required him to travel on Al Anbar’s dangerous roads to provide security for Iraqis and other Marines.
“The world was a better place when Staff Sgt. Ramseyer was here,” said Ferguson.
Ramseyer joined the Marine Corps in June 1996. He reported to the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in November 2003, and deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom last year.
For duty in Iraq, Ramseyer was hand-selected by Lt. Col. Norman L. Cooling, the battalion’s commanding officer, as the platoon commander for the Jump CP – a duty his Marines say he performed with consummate professionalism and unparalleled valor.
“He had courage,” said Ferguson, who was also exposed to the blast that killed Ramseyer. “He would always go to the front line and he never showed fear in doing so. He had the mentality of a true warrior.”
“He would never put a Marine in a dangerous situation he was not willing to put himself in first,” said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Kiernan, 33, company gunnery sergeant for the battalion’s Headquarters and Service Company. “His Marines respected him because he treated them, regardless of rank, with the respect and dignity they deserved. He was a great friend and a great Marine. We will all miss him.”
Kiernan also said that aside for his love for the Marine Corps and his Marines, Ramseyer was also a dedicated family man. Kiernan remembers one Christmas Eve staying up all night assisting Ramseyer assemble a trampoline for his children.
“He strived to have the perfect family,” said Kiernan. “He cherished every minute he had with his wife and children. He even named his weapons and protective equipment after them. There was nothing he would not do for them.”
Ramseyer’s past duty assignments include: 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.; mortar instructor at The Basic School at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va.; martial arts instructor at the Martial Arts Center of Excellence at Quantico, Va.
Ramseyer’s personal awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3rd Award) and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Ramseyer is survived by his wife, Amanda and his three children, Caleb, Riley and Cadence.