Memories of Jesse
January 26th has become an annual benchmark for us. We have many memories that predate 1/26/05 but the anniversery reminds us of the pain but also the incredible closeness of family, close friends, neighbors, and those friends we haven't met yet. Our prayers are there for Vicki, Nate, Matthew, Heather, and the rest of the family. Our prayaers are also there for the Vermont and other US servicemen deployed and soon to be deployed. God Bless You All!
I can still remember where I was almost 5 years ago when I got the call that Jesse, a childhood friend, had been killed in Iraq. I was sitting at my kitchen table with my sister Sarah. She and her kids were living with me and my kids while our husbands were both deployed, hers to Iraq and mine to Kuwait. I listened in stunned silence and then we both broke into sobs when I related the message to her. Even now, as I visit this site and read the memorials, I am overcome with the tears and the memories. I do, however, have to smile when I think about the time that Jesse skinned that porcupine that someone had found dead on the road I think. Well, Jesse gave some of the quills to my brother Job, and Job left them lying around and I got one in my big toe. I never would have guess that day what a precious memory it would someday be for me! I cherish the times we spent together while we kids were growing up. You were all such special friends! But even more precious than the past, is the future I'm looking forward to, the future when we'll spend eternity in Heaven together! Praise the Lord I can't wait for that day! You are all in my thoughts and prayers always. Thank you. P.S. Job and my husband Mike are heading to Afghanistan for a year's deployment. I'd appreciate it if you'd keep them in your prayers.
I was thinking of Jesse the other day and I pulled out a old picture I had from when he came and stayed with us at thanksgiving where we are standing next to his new black car. That was the time he had his black sports car and he was watching videos of Usher and asking me to tell him if it sucked or not. I still remember him breaking out and dancing in the Old Navy, always smiling. Jesse was in my brothers dorm at Liberty, Daniel Brown, and he came to visit several times to our house on holidays. As a Senior in HS, I immediately liked Jesse and just though he was so much fun to be around. This was back in 2002. I went on to attend James Madison University and he still kept in touch. He was one of the real reasons I joined the Marines in 2004. His testimony and the way he talked about the Corps made me realize thats what I wanted to be a part of as well. I still remember when my mom called me at work in 2005 shortly after they learned of Jesse's falling in Iraq. I was so shook up my boss gave me the rest of the day off. I want you to understand that Jesse meant alot to me and was a great mentor in HS and even after. He would call me from time to time just to "see if I was alright" He called me right before I went to boot camp as well and prayed for me. He deployed while I was at Infantry school so I never got to really say good luck and pray for him in return. I can tell you that the Marines at C company really respected Jesse. I was attached to the H&S Co in Baltimore MD with the 4th CEB and when we would do whole battalion training I would run into people who were there that night. They said he was a great man, and I responded your damn right. I am now out of the marines, but I just wanted to leave a note for you that he is missed, but remembered.
I read a back issue of a magazine featuring a tribute to this brave Marine and was compelled to search him on the internet. My search led to this wonderful memorial site for such a special man in the lives of many. While I did not know him, I am eternally grateful for his service and sacrifice. From the testimony of those who knew him, his faith in God was unwavering and there is great comfort in knowing that he is with his Lord and Savior now. I pray continued peace and blessings upon his family, friends and all that he served with. Thank you for sharing his story and his life on this site.
Just thinking about Jesse after military emphasis convocation here at LU, and about how often he must have spent his days doing just what I do - classes, convo, homework, lunch at the rot. Even thought I didn't know him personally, his unassuming heroism still amazes me. He'll never be forgotten.
I think often of Jesse, but it never fails that every year on 9/11 he comes to my mind like a tidal wave. It happened so abruptly the morning of September 11, 2006 that I actually had to change my lesson plans for school. Instead of teaching whatever subject in history I had planned, I found some images from the web of Jesse and talked about the wonderful man that I knew as a friend in college. I couldn't get through the presentation that first time and I have a hard time doing it now, but rest assured that Jesse's memory remains alive and well in those who considered him a friend and a brother. His memory reaches High School students even today, as I teach about him once again. I can truly say that I have never met a soul as gentle, kind, and true as Jesse and for having met him I am eternally grateful. I have also never had a barber as funny and cheap as him! I miss you brother... but know that you are celebrating with our LORD even now...
"I cherish the memory of a question my grandson asked me the other day. 'Grandpa were you a hero in the war?' Grandpa said No, but I served in a company of hero's." Richard Winters
Today brought Jesse to mind for me. I was always so impressed by him. He was such a light, even at a Christian school like Liberty. He was universally loved and admired. We thank him and miss him this Memorial Day. Semper Fi, Jesse, you are missed!
Mr. & Mrs. Strong, Its Memorial Day & I just wanted you to know that Jesse's memory is still with me & will always be with me. You all are in my thoughts & prayers. Thank you for your sacrifice & I am eternally grateful for his. I love you all. Semper Fi, Sgt. Justin Davenport
It's Memorial Day again and I am surrounded by photos and videos and tv programs that remind me of all the soldiers who have protected our country...and I cry because this day to me is no longer just about a day off or a town parade and barbeque or a day at the lake...it is a day that we remember our own soldier...his faith, his laugh, his strength,his caring heart, his sacrifice. Jesse is never very far anyway, but Memorial Day brings him forefront. I'm thinking of and praying for you Nate, Vicki, Heather, and Matthew. I love you. Lynn
The other day, Greg Mc Namer, retired Marine, working on a remote weapons program for the Marine Corps, noticed Jesse's Memorial decal in my truck's window and made a point of asking about him and how his folks were doing. In talking about Jesse, I saw a Marine who appreciated hearing about a great Marine and sharing concern for families of our Fallen --- and because of the life he lived, I was proud to relate Jesse's commitment and actions as a Marine, his fun-loving character and he and his folks' strength due to their relationships with God. This Memorial Day I remember Jesse for the initiative he took: to stand in the gap and defend, to share his faith, and truly care about those around him. Jesse's memory lives on as a testimony. Last night, I was with Pat and Angie Connally and watched the HBO documentary "Taking Chance", about a Marine Col escorting a Fallen Marine home, and it was tough. It was a lot of tears, but we remembered Jesse and the positive mark on our world that he left for his fellowman and his Lord. We know that God has a purpose to all, and we will always remember you, Jesse.
Driving through Lynchburg today, I stopped behind a Jeep with a Jesse Strong Memorial decal on the window. I was so gratified. I am not alone in honoring this young man. God bless you, Nathan, Vicki, and family. And all of Jesse's brothers in arms. "Though fallen in battle, the spirit stands in victory." Jim
Haven't been to the site in awhile. Saw somethign today that reminded me of you so I stopped by to see your smile again bro. Still miss you.
Dear Mr and Mrs Strong and Family, My husband and I were driving to Canada to visit family, and while we were passing through VT we stopped at the rest area as we have done many times over the years. While milling around I found Jesse's card and memorial. I took Jesse's card and put it in my pocket. Back in the car I cried silent tears for a while, some for Jesse and some for our son Jean-Paul. Just a few weeks earlier we said good bye to JP who was deployed to Iraq with his unit. He is an Army MP and a gunner in a Caiman Mwrap. Because he had just left, my emotions were raw. I was scared, nervous and terrified of him dying. My faith is strong, but have thought many times that JP's life is in God's hands, and there is no guarantee that he would escape death or injury no matter how much we prayed for him. Looking at Jesse's picture was proof of that and hit me hard. As much Jesse's picture was confirmation of my worst fear I was compelled to keep him close to me. I have never forgotten him. Every once and a while I take him out, hold him in my hands and pray. I find comfort in Jesse's faith, and often repeated his words to others when they would ask me if I was afraid for my son. "I am bullet proof until the Lord determines otherwise". Jean-Paul's mission is over. They all came back Easter weekend to Ft. Dix. Their coming ceremony is this Saturday and I thank the Lord every day that he is safe. My heart goes out to your family, and everyone else that has lost a love one. I just wanted to thank you for sharing Jesse with me and the rest of the world. He has made a difference, and his faith journey carries on. God Bless you, Sincerely, Verdi Vadnais
Thank you Jesse for your tremendous smile, your honor and commitment to the greatest of missions --- our freedom here and sharing the path to eternal freedom Above. God Bless, and missing you. Uncle Russ
Nate, Vicky, Matt, and Heather, This is a day of great reflection for me. Four years seems so long but also like it was yesterday. Jesse is in my thoughts often, especially today. Thanks again for being a wonderful American family. Love you guys, Semper Fi, Butch Dreany
I'm a former Green Beret who felt compelled to write you. I want to remain anonymous for a number of reasons, but I DID need to write you. I did not know your son, but I knew OF him. I was in the 'area' with my Delta Group when he was killed. Althoug he was a Marine, he was a brother in arms then, and ALWAYS will be. The reason I felt compelled to write you is that I'm a massachusetts native by birth and only moved to Vermont a month ago. I honestly forgot about your son... not because I wanted to, but only because I have seen SO MANY faces just like his in my years in combat... an unfortunate problem. But just last week, on a drive to Brattelboro with my girlfriend, we stopped at the rest area that is also a war memorial... I'm sure you know of where I speak, seeing that I found your son's pamphlet there. I was instantly brought to my knees and to tears... and my girlfriend could not understand why... for me to come to a state I barely knew... and to see a face I did not remember, brought back so many painful memories I had been suppressing. Reading your son's pamphlet was a sort of epiphany for me... and I have thanked him in prayer many times already... and I thank you now. I lost my faith in God over there... and your Son made me realize I had never truly gained it back... and it was something that I sorely missed without even realizing it. Well, Jesse made me realize it. The very next day, I went back to church... a special catholic church in Lebanon, New Hampshire, where I am re-establishing my faith, love, and communication, with God.... and I owe it to Jesse. I just wanted to let you know... I'm sure you already do... but Jesse saved lives over there... and he continues to save them over here... I'm living proof of that. I thank God every night for "finding" Jesse once more, and for him being the cause of my new "awakening". And I thank you for being there to help... God Bless you and your family... and know that Jesse will not only live on in your's and the Lord's hearts... but he will live on in mine as well.
To Jesse's family and friends, I'm thinking of you on this Veterans' Day and as Jesse's birthday approaches. I learned your story last winter on CNN. I appreciate your sharing your grief--in so doing, you have helped me grieve. Thank you for sharing so many memories and photos--and for giving me this opportunity to say, "I care."
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE AND GIVING THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE WHEN YOU WERE CALLED UPON BY YOUR COUNTRY. AND MAY GOD KEEP AND BLESS YOUR FAMILY FOR THE LOSS THAT THEY HAVE ENDURED. YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!
though i am Canadian i will be a soldier in 2 months and have grew up in a military family. because of this i have a deep passion for the military US and Canadian. there was something about your sons passing that really touched me. i saw some of the funeral and a picture of you misses strong and as is aid for some reason i was touched and put to tears. I wish only the best for you and your family good luck i know Jesse will be missed dearly