Young Soldier Wanted to Make Family Proud

ByABC News via logo
October 25, 2001, 10:16 PM

C H E Y E N N E, Wyo., Oct. 26 -- Army Ranger Specialist Jonn J. Edmunds hung a note on the refrigerator for his wife before he left for military duty, hoping to reassure her in the lonely stretch ahead.

"Anne, I will be okay. I am going to come back to you," the 20-year-old soldier from Cheyenne, Wyo. wrote. "I love you and I will think of you. Be strong while I'm gone, and never forget I love you. Love, John."

It was the last note that his wife would receive from her husband. Edmunds and another soldier were killed last Friday in a helicopter crash in Pakistan. They were the first combat casualties in America's war on terrorism.

"I think what made him such a wonderful soldier was the fact that he was such a wonderful person and such a dedicated husband and individual," Anne Edmunds told ABCNEWS' Good Morning America. "Jonn was a very special person to me."

A memorial service will be held for Edmunds this Saturday in Cheyenne.

Knew Danger Lay Ahead

Spc. Edmunds and Pfc. Kristofer T. Stonesifer, 28, of Missoula, Mont. were in a Black Hawk helicopter that crashed upon landing in Pakistan, apparently due to low visibility. The helicopter was on standby as U.S. special forces headed into Afghanistan.

Edmunds' family said serving in the military was a dream come true for him. Edmunds signed up for the Army at the minimum age of 17, when he was only a senior in high school, an honors student. The military was in his blood. His father had completed three tours in Vietnam, and his grandfather fought in World War II.

Edmunds was assigned to the Rangers a few months after joining the Army. He served with the 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Fort Benning, Ga.

Dream of Education Will Go On

The young soldier had planned to get a college education while he was in the Army, and the family wants that dream to live on.

To honor his memory, his family set up the Jonn J. Edmunds Memorial Fund. Contributions will be collected at Wells Fargo Bank's worldwide locations. His family said part of the fund will provide no-interest loans to first-year Rangers, to help them enjoy the benefits that Edmunds missed.