Army Pfc. Jason M. Kropat
Died March 09, 2010 serving during Operation Enduring Freedom
25, of White Lake, N.Y.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died March 9 in Khowst province, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained when insurgents attacked his unit using small-arms, indirect and rocket-propelled grenade fires. Also killed was Sgt. Jonathan J. Richardson.
(The following was taken from www.recordonline.com of March 20, 2010) BETHEL — Army Pfc. Jason M. Kropat was buried on Friday in Sullivan County. A military honor guard and his family followed on foot behind the hearse carrying his flag-draped coffin.
The procession passed White Lake, where Kropat loved to fish as a boy.
The tapping of a military guard's shoes and the jingling of the medals on their breasts could be heard clearly as it passed.
The procession moved along Route 17B for nearly two miles, stopping only briefly before a giant American flag draped from two ladder trucks.
Kropat's parents and the rest of his family got out of a stretch limousine and walked the rest of the way to his gravesite.
At his funeral beforehand, which was broadcast from loudspeakers outside the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Kropat was described as mischievous, funny, quiet and brave.
The military has released few details of his death.
Kropat, 25, was a machine gunner with the 101st Airborne Division who was killed on March 9 by small arms fire, the first soldier from Sullivan County to be killed in Afghanistan.
Brig. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr. presented the family with Kropat's Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and several other commendations for valor.
Kropat was described as a regular Sullivan County kid who fished, hunted and roared around on four-wheelers before he left White Lake. He hung out at the lake and sneaked cigarettes.
After graduating from Monticello High School, he worked a little as a carpenter and roofer.
Kropat got into a bit of trouble as a young man.
In 2008, he decided that he wanted to join up, and this changed him, his father, Glenn Kropat, said in church.
He went from being the kid who burned down an apple tree, ran around all hours of the night, never did anything easy in life, to "the battle buddy that everyone wanted," as one of his fellow soldiers described him during tributes.
"I don't have words to describe how happy I am to call him my son," the father said, choking up as he said, "I love you" for the last time to his son.
The family held a second, private service in Evergreen Cemetery.
Brian Bunce, a contractor who hired Jason Kropat before he left for the Army, came to the funeral with his trained falcon. Kropat would stop by his house and always ask to see the bird.
Kropat's nickname was "Nighthawk."
Bunce was asked to release the bird over his grave.
The family was sure that Jason would like that.