Role at OSU: Spouse of current OSU Student
Survived By: Wife
Date of Loss: 7 April 2007
Accident Type: IED
Country of Loss: Iraq
On Saturday 7 April 2007, Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh died in Zaganiyah, Iraq, from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Captain Grassbaugh was only 25 years old. From East Hampstead, New Hampshire, he was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. But this story isn't about the death of a soldier; it is about the legacy he left behind.
On Sunday 30 March 2014, four members of 1 Day for the K.I.A. met Captain Grassbaugh's wife, Captain Jenna Grassbaugh of the United States Army. It was then that we finally learned about the man behind the uniform and the many lives he touched while faithfully serving his country. One of our favorite stories is the notorious "Pizza Delivery" story that reveals Captain Grassbaugh as the true compassionate, servant-leader he was…
While on deployment, Captain Grassbaugh noticed that after spending many days and nights in the bitter cold mountains, his soldiers’ morale was getting low. What did Captain Grassbaugh do in response? He bought his troops pizza… by taking his commander's private helicopter, flying it to purchase 60 boxes of pizza, and then dropping them off at his troops’ various stations.
This simple but bold (and rather comical) act of kindness reflects the ideals Captain Grassbaugh held. He cared for his people and looked after them. Regardless of how trivial, absurd, or downright dangerous this act might have been, he was willing to take that risk and do whatever he could to boost his troops’ morale and ensure their well-being. Most importantly, while face-to-face with the cruelties and bloodshed of war, Captain Grassbaugh was able to give his troops a sense of sanity and a reminder of home through a slice of good o' American pizza, if only momentarily. This was the young man who knew how to take care of his people, the young man who loved and is still loved by many; this is the story of Captain Jonathan D. Grassbaugh.
Capt. Jenna Grassbaugh, a law student at The Ohio State University, has since started the Grassbaugh Veterans Project which helps veterans who may find themselves in need of legal assistance. She initiated the project by donating the insurance funds from Jonathan's passing. Information about her initiative can be found at http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/grassbaugh/.
- Jessica Sunkamaneevongse, 2014