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Army Pfc. Jason L. Sparks

Died September 8, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Monroeville, Ohio; assigned to 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Camp Casey, Korea; killed Sept. 8 by enemy fire in Fallujah, Iraq.

Ohio soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

MONROEVILLE, Ohio — A soldier from the Sandusky area of northern Ohio has been killed in Iraq, family members said.

The military informed the family of Jason Sparks, 19, of Monroeville, about his death on Thursday, according to his aunt, Becky Sparks. She said the family hadn’t been notified about how he had died.

Family members told the Sandusky Register that he was killed in Iraq.

The military had no information on Sparks, an Army public affairs duty officer said early Friday, but said that, by law, the Pentagon must wait at least 24 hours after notifying the family of a death before making a public announcement.

“Jason was one of those good kids who never got into trouble,” Becky Sparks said early Friday. “He wanted to go into the military for quite a while.”

Sparks had worked at two fast-food restaurants in nearby Norwalk before enlisting in February, his aunt said.

Steve Ringholz, Monoroeville High School’s football coach, said he found out about Sparks’ death after practice Thursday evening.

Ringholz said Sparks played the offensive line as a senior at Monroeville.

“He was a great kid,” Ringholz said. “He always had a smile on his face.”

Sparks was featured in the Aug. 22 edition of the Stars and Stripes newspaper. In it, Sparks was reported to be serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, and training in Kuwait, a staging area for many troops headed to Iraq.

Funeral held for soldier killed one week after arriving in Iraq

MONROEVILLE, Ohio — A handmade sign reading “Jason is our hero” hung on the wall of a high school gymnasium where hundreds of people attended the funeral Thursday for a soldier killed in Iraq.

Pfc. Jason Sparks, 19, died Sept. 8, only a week after arriving in Iraq, when his platoon was engaged in direct fire in Fallujah, the Department of Defense said.

Sparks was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment. He enlisted in February, went to South Korea in June and was stationed in Kuwait before leaving for Iraq.

Sparks graduated from Monroeville High School, and students there were let out of classes at 1 p.m. Thursday so they could attend services in the gymnasium.

Scott Sparks said that as a child, his son was extremely outgoing and loved to ask for hugs by saying, “Big hug. Big hug.”

“Jason was a child who loved everyone he came into contact with. He didn’t have a shy bone in his body,” Scott Sparks said.

For about half an hour, members of the military walked up to Sparks’ casket and saluted.

“I do not believe that what happened to Jason was God’s will ... this was an all too human act, in an all too human world,” Pastor Wayne Chasney said.

Sparks worked at two fast-food restaurants in nearby Norwalk before enlisting. He also played football and baseball in high school and helped coach a youth baseball team.

After the funeral, a group of students wearing football jerseys rolled Sparks’ casket out of the gymnasium and into the hearse.

Monroeville residents lined state Route 20 to pay their respects as the procession drove through the town about 50 miles southeast of Toledo.

Sparks was buried in Riverside Cemetery, where a yellow ribbon was tied on a tree next to his grave.

Janet Gerber, a secretary at Monroeville High School, said she remembered Sparks as being honest and straightforward. She said he often talked about serving his country.

“That was top on his list,” she said. “He felt very strong about it. If he were standing here today, he’d say he’d do it all over again.”

— Associated Press

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