Jonathan Pfender

Jonathan Pfender—February 2006 Shipment Honoree

Army Pvt., 22, of Evansville, Ind.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Dec. 30, 2005 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during patrol operations in Bayji, Iraq.

Soldier who died in Iraq sought change

Source: Associated Press and


An Indiana soldier killed in Iraq joined the Army because he wanted to take his life in a new direction, his mother said. Pvt. Jonathan R. Pfender, who was based at Fort Campbell, Ky., had thought about joining the military since seventh grade, said his mother, Peggy Jo Hammond.

Last spring, he quit his job at Pizza Hut and joined the Army. Pfender, 22, believed he had gotten “lazy” and wanted to do more with his life, Hammond said Sunday. “I asked him about the National Guard or Reserves, and he said, ‘I’m going all out,’ ” she said. ” ‘I’m going in the Army … I want to go to Iraq.’ ”

Pfender, of Evansville, was killed by an improvised explosive device during a patrol Friday in Bayji, Iraq, the Army said. Pfender was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. He was the 52nd military service member from Indiana to die in the war.

Family members mourned his loss Sunday, but said they were proud of him. Hammond said she knew her son, a 2001 graduate of North Posey High School, likely would be sent to Iraq but backed his decision “250 percent.” She showed her support by getting her son’s picture tattooed on her arm. The tattoo depicts her son in uniform standing in front of a U.S. flag. Pfender was impressed when he saw the tattoo during a visit home before his deployment Sept. 16, family members said.

“Jonathan is still a part of my heart that I could not ever explain to anybody if I ever tried. That’s why this is on my arm,” Hammond said. “It’s a pride I can’t explain.” Pfender wanted to be an Army Ranger, but high blood pressure kept him out of the unit, his mother said.

Pfender’s father and stepmother, Randy and Jackie Pfender of Ohio, were in the Evansville area when they learned of Jonathan’s death. Hammond said Army officials told her that her son’s body is in Kuwait and an autopsy will be conducted in Dover, Del., before his body is returned home.

He had been scheduled to return to the United States for two weeks in June. Hammond said she last spoke with her son by phone Christmas Day. “I got a half-hour,” she said. “It was the longest I ever got to talk to him.” She said she ended the conversation the same way she had told her son good night since he was little: “Night night, sweet dreams, I love you.”

Other web sites about Jonathan are:

Defense Link

Wish TV


The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Jonathan during the month of February 2006 with our shipments to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and U.S. military hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our thoughts and prayers remain with Jonathan’s family and friends today and in the years to come.

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