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IRAQ HERO

PROVEN IN BATTLE


Spc. Jonathan Roy Kephart
9/2/82-4/8/04

GOD'S LOAN
I'll lend to you for a little time
A child of mine, he said.
For you to love the while he lives,
And mourn for when he's dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or fifteen plus three,
But will you till I call him back,
Take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you,
And should his stay be brief,
You'll have these precious memories
As solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay
Since all from earth return,
but there are lessons taught down there,
I want my child to learn.

I've looked this whole world over
In my search for teachers true,
And in the crowds that throng life's land,
I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love,
Not think the labour vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call
To take him back again.

It seems to me I heard them say
"Dear Lord, thy will be done;
For all the joys thy child shall bring
The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter him with tenderness,
We'll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we've known,
Forever grateful stay.
And should the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we've planned,
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes
And try to understand.

SPC Kephart in Kuwait before entering Iraq

Philippians 1:12

But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.

On April 8, 2004, while patrolling Highway One; Baghdad, Iraq; Spc. Jonathan Kephart and his squad were ordered to move to the location of another patrol that had been ambushed and had an immobilized vehicle. While in route, they were greatly outnumbered by enemy forces on both sides of the road, and then a roadblock forced them to turn back in the middle of the ambush. Even after being shot twice in the shoulder Jonathan laid down heavy accurate fire, keeping the enemy pinned down while his squad drove out of the ambush. Only after a rocket propelled grenade hit his vehicle did Jonathan stop firing, his wounds to grievous for him to continue. In the words of CPT David C. Beaman, Jonathan died a hero. (The booklet includes the report submitted by MSG Rossman detailing the events of the actual battle in which Jonathan's life was taken). 

In the history of this great nation, we have heard this story many times as brave young men and women fight to preserve our freedom. We are proud of each of them and are proud to be called Americans. But, how does a family deal with such news? Proven in Battle is a real story about real heroes, real bravery, real grief, and a real faith that sustained the Kephart family during such a tragic loss. 

Sometime after Jonathan's death on April 8, 2004, his personal belongings arrived home from Iraq. As I opened the first locker, my eyes were drawn to a golden coin resting atop his belongings. The inscription on the coin read, "Proven in Battle." I am not sure who put it there, but those words continued with me as I considered writing this story of my son, Specialist Jonathan Roy Kephart. Thus the title of this booklet: Proven in Battle.

I am very proud of my son's courage in the battle in which they were so vastly out numbered (300-500 enemy insurgents). It seems that when an enemy seeks to destroy the United States of America, and take our freedom, there are always those who will rise to oppose that enemy. I prayed daily for God to give Jonathan unusual strength and courage if he were ever to directly engage the enemy. God answered my prayer.

Jonathan had called home two days prior to his death, leaving a message since we weren't home. Prior to this call, every time I talked to Jonathan on the phone, I always ended with, "Jonathan, if anything happens to you, I will see you in heaven." His response was always, "OK, Dad."

Jonathan did not fear death. He knew Jesus as his personal Savior. He had a home awaiting him in heaven. He would not have asked for death, but faced it with great peace and courage. He was relentless in that fight. We are so proud of him. We are so proud of all of them.

John 14:1-3

Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Jonathan's headstone with memorial wreath at the one year anniversary of his death

On Friday, April 16 we had the funeral. The Army had representatives to show their support and respect for a fallen comrade. I do not know who was responsible for all of the arrangements, but we had a state police escort to the church. It was all to honor who the community saw as a brave young soldier who lost his life defending freedom. Governor Ed Rendell ordered a proclamation that all flags were to be flown at half mast throughout Venango County until sundown on the day of Jonathan's burial.

The funeral service for the people of God is a time of hope as one of God's children leaves this life to enter into life eternal in heaven. Heaven is the ultimate destination for those who know Jesus as their personal Savior. During this service, it was our desire to honor Jonathan, our military, our country, and most of all, our God. Among those in attendance was Brig General John Woods of the Joint Chief of Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. At the cemetery, we all gathered around to bid an affectionate farewell. Our parting will be for just a little while, until we meet again in heaven. Jonathan was buried with full military honors including a twenty-one gun salute and the playing of taps.  General Woods presented our family with the flag which had been draped on Jonathan's casket. He also presented to us Jonathan's Purple Heart award and the Bronze Star award with "V" for Valor. 

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

God has given me that peace. It is a peace that could never have been fully comprehended without going through the time of storm says Jonathan's mother.

I would also like you to know that I have not had a moment of bitterness in my heart toward God, toward our President, toward the military or anyone else. My heart is full of gratitude for Jonathan's life of sacrifice, and it is an honor to have had such a son.  We are so proud as we can be of each and every one who has served in our armed forces. When circumstances deem it necessary, God is a God of war, and His people will rise up and fight. Because of 9/11, the time came for this country to respond in war. We were attacked. Our citizens were killed (more than in the attack on Pearl Harbor). This war is about worldwide terrorism. It is a just war. Jonathan wanted to be in Iraq. He believed it was right.

"Faces of the Fallen" memorial in Washington DC

WE WILL REMEMBER

We will remember...
The attack on America,
The assault on our freedom,
The shock, the horror, the terror,
The darkness, the debris, the death of
thousands,
The devilish deed of delusioned men.

We will remember...
The heroes among us,
The police and firemen,
The passengers who fought the hijackers,
The rescuers who risked their lives,
The brave who died and the children who 
cried.

We will remember...
A president who promised justice for evil-
doers,
A nation that renewed its patriotism,
A people who rose up unified- 
To fly the flag with fervor,
To sing the National Anthem
with passion,
to pray with faith,
to acclaim that "God is our refuge
and strength, a very present
help in trouble."

We will remember...
That liberty is precious,
That freedom is priceless,
That our nation will not perish

WE WILL REMEMBER...

-Vernon C. Lyons-

A great people has been moved to defend a great
nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of
our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the
foundation of America. These acts shattered steel,
but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve.

-President George W. Bush-
September 11,2001

Thank God for our military. Thank God for every one who is there to answer the call when the time is needed. Thank God for the sacrifice of every person who has shed his blood for the sake of our freedom.  Thank God for the families who have experienced such a sacrifice. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I cannot tell you of the bond we have in our hearts toward those who serve in our Armed Forces. It will be a life long bond for me. Maybe you are a family who has faced a similar situation. Are you without hope today? Are you struggling to find peace? This hope and peace can be found if you will only turn to Christ. 

I Thessalonians 4:13-18

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

There are several things God wants you to understand from the Bible to give you too hope and peace.

First, God gave His Son Jesus Christ to shed His blood for our sins. John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Second, you are a sinner, separated from God and in need of a Savior. Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

You must repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."  Romans 10:9, 10, 13 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lordshall be saved." 

In September of 1970, shortly after I returned from Vietnam, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and become my Savior. Jesus changed my life. He gave me a peace that I had never before experienced. I will be in heaven with Jesus when I die. I John 5:11,12,13, "And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Jonathan had this assurance as well. You can have this assurance as well. You can have the same assurance by trusting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. If you have never done that, prayerfully consider what I have written. All you need to do is pray a simple prayer, "Dear Lord, I know that I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins. I want you to come into my heart and life and be my Savior. I want to know that I am going to heaven when I die. Thank you Lord for saving me. Amen."

If you have prayed to receive Jesus as your Savior, or desire to talk to someone more about this subject, please email or write or phone me at the following:


Burton R. Kephart
6424 US 322
Franklin, PA 16323

Phone: 814-437-2422

E-mail: dkeps14972000@usachoice.net

Proven In Battle is a real story about real heroes, real bravery, real grief, and a real faith that sustained the Kephart family during such a tragic loss. You may purchase this booklet by contacting them at the above address. This booklet is also a great witnessing tool to share with those without Christ. 

Stand up in the place where the dear Lord has put you, and there do your best. God gives us trial tests. He puts life before us as an antagonist face-to-face.  Out of the buffeting of a serious conflict we are expected to grow strong. The tree that grows where tempests toss its boughs and bend its trunk often almost to breaking, is often more firmly rooted than the tree which grows in the sequestered valley where no storm ever brings stress or strain. The same is true of life. The grandest character is grown in hardship.

- Selected -

"BLESSED IS THE NATION WHOSE GOD IS THE LORD."
Psalm 22:12a

"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to TRIUMPH in Christ..."
II Corinthians 1:14

Email: silentmissionary@yahoo.com