John C. Osmolski – may his sacrifice, and the sacrifices of his brothers-in-arms, not be forgotten (Memorial Day 2012)
May 28, 2012 Leave a comment
For Memorial Day 2012 I am posting again my tribute to John C. Osmolski, an American hero. May his sacrifice, and the sacrifice of his brothers-in-arms, not be forgotten.
To celebrate our 23rd anniversary Christi and I visited one of our favorite cities, Washington, DC. Each time we visit DC we make a trip to Arlington Cemetery and we always pay our respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and see the changing of the guard at least once.
This visit was different. We still visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. However, this year, buried at Arlington was a fallen soldier we had known. His name: John C. Osmolski. We watched him grow up in church. He was a cute kid with the nicest curls you could imagine on a guy’s head. He was only two years older than our son, Aaron. Oddly enough, John was buried on our 22nd anniversary, February 15, 2008.
John’s death, while obviously tragic, was not in vain. The following appeared in the Orlando Sentinel. I reprint it here in case it is taken down. The article is an incredible tribute to a child of the King.
After 15 months in Iraq, U.S. Army Sgt. John C. Osmolski was ready to come home.
The date was set: This coming Wednesday, Osmolski would be back in Eustis, playing with his nephew John Micheal and tinkering with his Jeep with his brother Daniel.
He never made it home.
On Tuesday, Osmolski, 23, was searching a house in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, about 50 miles northeast of Baghdad, when a homemade bomb exploded. He and two other soldiers died of injuries from the blast.
“He was just doing his job,” Daniel Osmolski said Thursday as he sat with his wife, Heather, in his living room in Eustis. “His goal was always to go into the Army and serve his country.”
Osmolski grew up in Eustis, where he lived until he left for boot camp in January 2005. He attended Circle Christian School in Orlando, where he was a forward on the soccer team.
As a teenager, he was active in the youth groups at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Eustis and at nearby Bay Street Baptist Church. David Kelly, the youth director at New Hope, went on several mission trips with Osmolski and his twin sister, Julia, to Peru, where the church ran a ministry for street children.
“John was passionate about whatever he did, and he poured his whole heart into those children,” Kelly said. “He didn’t let any of that bother him, the fact that they were dirty or poor. He just opened up his arms and let them come to him.”
A childhood dream
Osmolski had wanted to join the military ever since he was a kid playing with G.I. Joe dolls, his brother said. He thought he would attend college first, and after he graduated from high school, he spent a couple of semesters at Valencia Community College. Then he got impatient.
“He got tired of waiting — that’s why he enlisted,” Daniel Osmolski said.
Osmolski became a combat engineer and was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C. He spent six months in Afghanistan in 2005 and was deployed to Iraq at the end of 2006.
Osmolski was scheduled to be discharged in May, and he did not plan to re-enlist. He wanted to start a family and finish college, and he had told his brother that he was toying with the idea of working for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement — the agency that rounds up illegal immigrants.
He planned to take the summer off and spend time with his family, work on his car and play with the dog named Ophelia that he had brought home on a whim as a teenager.
“He and I went to buy a truck one day, and he came home with a dog,” Daniel Osmolski said. “Mom was not happy that night.”
Osmolski’s MySpace page, which his girlfriend, Lindsey Cruz, is maintaining in the wake of his death, lists Metallica as one of his favorite bands, and Jesus Christ as his personal hero. The page is listed under Osmolski’s nickname, Squirrell, which Daniel Osmolski said his brother’s friends have been calling him since he was a teenager.
Today, Daniel, Heather and John Micheal Osmolski will travel to Virginia, where John Osmolski’s mother, R. Eileen Osmolski, and sisters, Ruth Janna Wheat and Julia Osmolski, live outside of Richmond. The soldier’s father died when he and his siblings were children.
Close to his family
Daniel Osmolski said John Osmolski was extraordinarily close to his family, especially with his twin sister, Julia, who was born a minute after him.
“The joke was always that she kicked him out,” he said. “They did everything together.”
Daniel Osmolski said John Osmolski was considered the clown of the family. He remembered his wedding, when John was the best man. Rather than make a toast, John gave Daniel a pair of boots that he dubbed “man-of-the-house boots.” One boot had “Man of the” embroidered on it. The other said “House.”
“He was always doing what he could to make others laugh,” Daniel Osmolski said. “He brought joy to all of us when he was around.”
Osmolski’s family plans to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery later this month. They also want to have a memorial ceremony in Eustis, although they haven’t settled on a date.
Daniel Osmolski said his brother often warned his family that he might die in Iraq. But John Osmolski’s Christian faith helped him make peace with that possibility.
“Someone’s got to do it,” he told his brother. “And who would be better than someone who knows where their eternity lies?”
“That was John,” Daniel Osmolski said. “Trying to comfort us.”
The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming. (Psalms 37:12-13 ESV)