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Army Pfc. Jonathan C. Yanney

Died August 18, 2009 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

20, of Litchfield, Minn.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; died Aug. 18 in Arghandab, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit. Also killed was Spc. Troy O. Tom.

Soldier with Minnesota ties killed in Afghanistan

KARE-TV (Minneapolis)

Jonathan Yanney once described himself as a “pretty active” person, “so I don’t like just sitting around doing nothing.”

Not long after he graduated from high school, Yanney joined an Army Stryker brigade deployed to southern Afghanistan. The 20-year-old was reportedly on his way to help another unit under fire last week when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle. The explosion killed him and another soldier, Spc. Troy O. Tom, 21, of Shiprock, N.M.

“Extremely driven,” was how his former high school principal, Marcella Swatosh, described Yanney on Monday.

“We knew that he wanted to go into something where he could help people,” said Swatosh, the principal of Norwood High School in southern Missouri, which Yanney attended for three years. “He was always very focused on wanting to help people, and it sounds like that’s what he was doing.

Yanney, of Litchfield, Minn., enlisted in the Army in March 2008 and reported to Fort Lewis, Wash., six months later.

He was sent to Kandahar province, one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan. Insurgents regularly plant roadside bombs to attack Afghan and foreign troops there to combat both the Taliban and a thriving opium trade.

Yanney’s self-description was on his MySpace page. A posting on Yanney’s MySpace from someone who identified himself as his father said Yanney was “en route to assist another unit under fire.”

Jonathan Yanney’s decision to join the military was a surprise to some who knew him.

“I never pictured that,” said Kevin Drake, his former baseball coach. “Very respectful, always, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Drake.’ ... As far as the being respectful part, you could see the military in him. But no, I wouldn’t have thought he’d be in the armed forces.”

Drake said he persuaded Yanney to join the team even though he hadn’t played baseball before. In time, Yanney became a good hitter on the junior-varsity level and played in a handful of varsity games by his second year.

Both Drake and Swatosh, his high school principal, remembered his sense of humor.

“It was very dry,” Swatosh said.

Yanney later moved to Tennessee for a short time. Samantha Lynn Fedele worked with him at a Wendy’s in Johnson City and stayed in touch after he moved to Minnesota and then deployed abroad.

She remembered him as outgoing and friendly.

“He just had this big, bright smile,” she said. “His smile would be the very first thing you noticed.”

Soldier laid to rest near grandfather’s hometown

The Associated Press

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A Minnesota soldier with Arkansas ties has been laid to rest in North Little Rock’s Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery.

A small ceremony was held Aug. 31 for Pfc. Jonathan Yanney, 20, who died Aug. 18 in Afghanistan after his team was hit with an improvised explosive device.

Yanney’s hometown is listed on military records as Litchfield, Minn., the same town where he enlisted in the Army in March 2008. He attended Norwood High School in Missouri and was buried in Arkansas at the request of his family.

His father, Russell Yanney, lives in Grapevine.

Yanney was a member of the 1st Battalion, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Pfc. remembered as respectful, outgoing

The Associated Press

Jonathan C. Yanney once described himself on a social networking Web site as a “pretty active” person who didn’t like “just sitting around doing nothing.”

He was a driven kid with a dry sense of humor, said Principal Marcella Swatosh of Norwood High School in Norwood, Mo., where Yanney attended for three years.

“He was always very focused on wanting to help people, and it sounds like that’s what he was doing,” she said.

Yanney, 20, of Litchfield, Minn., died Aug. 18 in Arghandab, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive detonated near his unit. He was based in Fort Lewis, Wash.

His former baseball coach, Kevin Drake, said Yanney joined the team even though he hadn’t previously played. He said even as a slugger on the junior varsity team, Yanney had at least one trait that’s characteristic of the military.

“Very respectful, always, ‘Yes sir, Mr. Drake,’ ” Drake said.

He was also outgoing and friendly, said Samantha Lynn Fedele, who worked with Yanney at a fast food restaurant.

“His smile would be the very first thing you noticed,” she said.

Yanney is survived by his mother, Jane Kuhn Yanney; his father, Russ Yanney; and his brother, Josh.

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