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Frank Rizzo | Democrat

Jason Kropat’s coffin begins its final journey to Bethel’s Evergreen Cemetery as his funeral ends on Friday.

Pfc. Jason Kropat laid to rest

By Frank Rizzo
WHITE LAKE — March 23, 2010 — Tears and yes, even laughter were in no short supply as the latest Sullivan County soldier to fall in battle was laid to rest.
A powerful “Service of Witness to the Resurrection of Jason Michael Kropat” gave family and friends a chance to hail the 101st Airborne private first class, killed March 9 in Afghanistan.
The service was held Friday at the Reformed Presbyterian Church of White Lake, presided over by the Rev. David Coon.
Fittingly, it took place across the road from the body of water beloved to Kropat, 25.
Speakers told of a mischievous boy with a proclivity for getting into trouble, of someone who had found “a brotherhood” in the Army, and of the “horrible knock on the door” on a Wednesday morning that changed their lives profoundly – and forever.
Glenn Kropat said he saw a transformation in his son after Jason joined the services back in October, 2008.
“I know he would have wanted to come home in a different way… but he made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom,” the elder Kropat noted. ‘“I’m so proud of the United States Army and the cause he gave his life for.”
“I’m so proud of you, Jason… I love you, son,” Kropat said.
Sheriff Office Detective Sgt. Don Starner, whose son Joseph is in his fourth tour of duty in Iraq, had Kropat as a DARE student at nearby Duggan Elementary School.
“I was one of those guys who had to chase him around,” Starner said to chuckles.
The last time he saw Kropat, the younger man gave thought to joining the armed services, and Starner was encouraging.
“I’m honored to be asked to speak here,” Starner said. “Jason, I salute you.”
“Good night, sweetheart, catch some trout for us up there,” cried special friend Shannon Kinne, alluding to his love of fishing.
“Every day this past week has been a test of strength from God… they have been difficult days for all of us,” said Kinne. “As Jason would always say, ‘Be strong.’ Baby, you’re the strongest person I know.”
Kimberley Kropat of Monticello echoed her father’s gratitude at the number of friends Jason had, and “the love and support you’ve given us.”
“On March 9, 2010, a real genuine heart of gold stopped beating,” Kimberly said, and added that ‘This isn’t a ‘goodbye’ to Jason, but a ‘See you later.’”
After poring through “hundreds of poems” to come up with commensurate sentiments, she chose “I Want You To Know” by Jonathan Tiong:

I know that you miss me,
but please dry your eyes.
I will always be watching and loving you
from my home in the sky.

A cool breeze on your face,
a touch of light rain,
I will send as a reminder
that we will be reunited again.

Life on earth is but one
brief moment in time,
I am finally home,
Eternity is mine.

Brigadier General Warren E. Phipps Jr. presented the medals and awards to Kropat’s family and relayed sentiments from Jason’s fellow soldiers.
“He lived every word of the soldier’s creed.”
“Always quick with a joke. The battle buddy that everybody wanted.”
“Literally did everything for everyone else.”
“Always realized that Kropat had my back… and I miss him.”
“Amazing Grace” was sung, the “Soldier’s Creed” was recited and Kropat’s flag-draped coffin was carried out of the church to the waiting hearse.
The two-mile journey to Bethel Evergreen Cemetery ensued, and burial with military honors, as Pfc. Kropat finally went home.

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