QUESTION #1: Please tell us how you heard of your son’s death and how events unfolded following that fateful event.


Burton Kephart:

“…when I walked in the house that night, it was a Thursday night at 10:00. The red light was blinking on the answering machine. Of course, I immediately thought it was Jonathan and pushed the button and it was not. It was the Army Department. They were calling us to notify us that he had been seriously wounded in battle and that they wanted to fly us to be where they were taking him, either to Walter Reid Hospital or to the hospital in Germany.

In the process of that phone call the sergeant that was calling put me on hold. She had a direct line to the Baghdad hospital. She was going to let me know where they were taking him and make preparations to get us there. In the process of that call she came back after a very short time. She was crying and I knew immediately why. I knew immediately because of her crying that he didn’t make it. I said to her, I said, “Ma’am, you can tell me. I’m a Vietnam veteran.”

She said she was not authorized to tell us, that there would be no need to fly anywhere and that the Army Department would be in touch with us very shortly. That’s how we found out about the death of our son Jonathon. As an experience in my heart that’s as real as I can tell it, I had perfect peace in my heart in knowing that though Jonathan had been taken in war, that he was in Heaven with the Lord. I knew that he was okay and that brought a great deal of comfort and peace to our hearts.

Of course, God’s grace brought us through the most difficult experience we had ever faced in our lives. We did not know what had happened to Jonathan. We did not know how he died and those were very difficult days, but on the Saturday following that Thursday I received a phone call from Iraq from his platoon sergeant. He knew that as a Dad I would want to know the details of his death. Both he and Amy Kovack, his driver, talked to us on the telephone for 45 minutes and gave us the details of the battle in which Jonathan died. That’s how we found out the details of his death.

I talked to his entire squad by telephone shortly thereafter through a link that they were able to do. Most of them have called us, have talked to us personally. I’ve been in touch with his platoon sergeant Ed Rossman who is now retired. I actually went out to Colorado Springs to attend his retirement ceremony. Amy Kovack, his driver, lives just one hour up the interstate from us here in Sharon, Pennsylvania and we are together several times throughout the year.

It’s been a blessing to us to hear from them and it never stops. We’re always hearing from somebody. It’s very difficult for them to call us and to talk to us and to know what to say. Even after a long period of time we will get a phone call from somebody that knew Jonathan and talk to them.”

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