Local soldier laid to rest
BY F.M. WIGGINS (STAFF WRITER)Published: June 3, 2012
FORT LEE - Less than a week after Memorial Day, the Prince George community laid to rest one of its own.
Family and friends of 28-year-old Army Capt. Jesse Ozbat gathered Saturday at Fort Lee's Memorial Chapel to celebrate his life and remember the honor and integrity that were an intrinsic part of him.
Ozbat died of injuries sustained May 20 while deployed to Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded. Ozbat died with 2nd Lt. Tobias C. Alexander, 30, of Lawton, Okla., in the attack. Ozbat was in his second deployment, having served a 15-month tour in Iraq beginning in 2009.
Ozbat was born Feb. 21, 1984, in Cairo, Mich. Jesse's father, a retired Army first sergeant, was transferred to several duty stations while Jesse was growing up.
Aaron Ozbat described his son as having honor and integrity even before joining the Army. "It didn't start when he put on the uniform," Ozbat said of his son.
Some of Jesse's first words weren't 'Mommy' or 'Daddy,' Aaron said, but rather "What's that?" displaying an inquisitive nature that the father said his son always had.
He described Jesse as also being determined, recalling a time when Jesse was a 4-year-old learning to ride a bike.
"Finally his mom asked him if he wanted help," Ozbat said, describing how his wife approached their son after watching him fall over numerous times. "He kept getting up, and by the end of the day, he was a bike rider." That determination continued into his adolescence when he got his first job at 15, and with savings from his job, his first car at 16.
By the time Jesse was at Prince George High School, he had decided to participate in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. When he started in the program, Aaron told his son that he didn't have to participate.
"I told him I wore the uniform so that he wouldn't have to," Aaron said. "Jesse told me 'I want to do my part. I want to stand for freedom. I want to wear the uniform so my little brother doesn't have to.' Jesse reiterated this to me in our last conversation before he left for Afghanistan."
After graduating from Prince George High School, Jesse enrolled in Virginia State University and continued to participate in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
Lamont Edwards, a classmate of Jesse Ozbat's from both Prince George High School and Virginia State University, said that while many at the service knew Capt. Ozbat, "I was fortunate enough to know Jesse Ozbat."
Edwards recalled growing up with Jesse. "To the days we were in class together, to our summer camps at Fort Eustis," Edwards said. "I knew that you would become a soldier."
He said that Ozbat was never one to back away from a mission or to complain about orders. Edwards said that Ozbat was always the first to volunteer to get the job done to the best of his ability.
"It was just 10 years ago when we were about to graduate Prince George High School," Edwards said. "Then came the days of VSU and I was excited to see that you held on to your dreams of becoming a soldier. I'm sure that now you made it to the promised land."
Edwards added that his friend also put the "soul in soldier."
Jesse's faith was something his father also described in detail, talking about how Jesse took a daily devotional his uncle had used in the Panama Canal Zone in 1941 with him when he recently deployed to Afghanistan.
Marisa N. Ozbat described her brother as her best friend. She said that when the family moved from military base to military base while growing up with their father in the Army, Jesse was her constant friend. "He was the one friend that could never move away," she said. "I was extremely proud to call him my brother."
She added that her brother would want those in attendance to also remember the life of the other man killed that day with him, Alexander, and the lives of all the others that have served and died.
Lt. Col. Alan Chandler, JROTC instructor at Prince George High School, said that 10 years ago Jesse was likely preparing for convocation and graduation - four years later he had successfully graduated from Virginia State University and been commissioned as an officer. "Today, June 2, we gather to remember one of our local sons that paid the ultimate price," Chandler said.
He added that while he never served with Jesse, he was proud of his former student's success.
"Jesse was one of the best," Chandler said. "This past Monday was Memorial Day, finding out about Jesse certainly adds more relevance to that special day and the Prince George community."
The support of the area was obvious Saturday as the Patriot Guard, an organization primarily of motorcyclists that provides honor guards for the funerals of soldiers, rode with the motorcade from the memorial chapel on post to Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg where Ozbat was laid to rest.
Along the route, soldiers, firefighters, police and others from the community showed their respect to Ozbat with roadside displays including American flags and signs showing support for both Ozbat and his family.
At the cemetery Ozbat received a three-volley salute and a bugler played taps. Solemnly, seven soldiers then folded the flag that had draped his casket and presented it to Ozbat's widow, Danielle T. Ozbat. A second flag was presented to his mother, Cynthia A. Ozbat.
Capt. Jesse A. Ozbat, U.S. Army, 28, of Prince George County, died Sunday, May 20, 2012, while serving in Afghanistan. Captain Ozbat was a 2002 graduate of Prince George High School and a 2006 graduate of Virginia State University, finishing in the top 10 percent of all cadets nationwide. Captain Ozbat received his commission on May 13, 2006. He served with the 1st and 14th Infantry, 2nd Stryker Brigade in Iraq, and with the 214th Fires Brigade at Fort Sill, and assigned to the 168 Brigade Support Battalion in Afghanistan.
He is survived by his wife, Danielle T. Ozbat of Petersburg; parents, Aaron M. and Cynthia A. Ozbat of Prince George; mother and father-in-law, Dahlia and Anthony Fontaine of Petersburg; brother, Elijah A. Ozbat; sister, Marisa N. Ozbat, both of Prince George; grandmother, Lillian Scott of Petersburg; and grandfather, Richard Scott of Caro, Mich.
A funeral service will be conducted at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at Memorial Chapel, 1901 Sisisky Boulevard, Fort Lee, Va. Interment with full military honors will follow at Blandford Cemetery, Petersburg. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Petersburg Chapel of J.T. Morriss & Son Funeral Home & Cremation Service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675 or www.woundedwarriorproject.org .
|From The Tuscola County Advertiser tuscolatoday.com
Caro family mourning soldier
Submitted by Compmanager on May 25, 2012 – 11:16 pm
By Mary Drier
CARO — This Memorial Day comes with a personal reminder of its significance for a Caro family who lost a family member to war Sunday.
U.S. Army Captain Jesse A. Ozbat, 28, of Prince George, Virginia, was killed May 20 in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan, of wounds when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device (IED).
Also killed in the attack was Army 2nd Lt. Tovias C. Alexander.
Both soldiers were assigned to the 168th Brigade Support Battalion, 214th Fires Brigade at the Fort Sill Army Post in Lawton, Oklahoma.
Ozbat’s grandparents, Richard and Shirley Scott still live in Caro, and said their grandson was “always a soldier.”
“Ever since he was a little boy that’s all he ever wanted to be was in the Army,” said Shirley Scott. “From age five, Jesse always talked about how he was going to be in the Army. His father was in the Army.
“Even as a little boy he was so Army, so military. There was nothing else he talked about wanting to be.”
In talking about their loss, the Scotts remembered what their grandson had planned for his future after the service.
“He was working on his master’s degree in math,” said Richard Scott. “When he got out of the service, he wanted to be a math teacher.”
While they mourn their grandson’s loss, they have comfort in one thought.
“I was a soldier. That’s all he ever wanted to be… a soldier. He died doing what he wanted to be,” said Shirley Scott.
While in school, Ozbat was in the ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). He was commissioned in the U.S. Army May 2006 as a Field Artillery Officer.
After commission from Virginia State University, Ozbat attended Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC) II at Fort Benning, Georgia, and BOLC III at Fort Sill in Oklahoma.
“He rose through the ranks fast,” said Richard Scott. “He made captain when he was in Iraq. He’s only 28 and a captain.”
This deployment was the second time Ozbat faced combat.
“He served in Iraq. He was about two weeks into his second tour then this…” said Scott.
Ozbat was born Feb. 21, 1984 in Caro. His family moved from Tuscola County when he was a child. His parents Aaron and Cynthia (Scott) Ozbat live in Prince George, Virginia, as do his sister Marisa and brother Elijah; and grandmother Lillian (Orton) Scott lives Petersburg, Virginia.
Some of Ozbat’s previous assignments included: Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he served as the Fire Support Officer for the C/1 – 14 Stryker Infantry Company. While on that assignment, he was deployed in support of Iraqi Freedom in 2009.
He then returned to Fort Sill and attended the Field Artillery Captain’s Career Course. When that was completed, he was assigned to Headquarters – Headquarters Batter, 214 Fires Brigade as the Fire Controller Officer and Current Operations Office. From Sept. 2010 – March 2012, he served as the commander of the HHB, 214th Fires Brigade
Among his awards are: a Bronze Star medal with an oak leaf cluster, a Purple Heart, Army Achievement metal, the Iraqi Campaign medal, and Afghanistan metal.
He is survived by his wife of five years, Danielle.
As of deadline funeral arraignments are pending.