The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 23, 2009

Memorial funds set up locally to honor soldier killed in Afghanistan

From staff reports

Memorial services are planned in Afghanistan and locally for a former area soldier who was killed last week in Afghanistan. Numerous funds also are being set up in his name.

Staff Sgt. John Cleaver died Thursday when a truck bomb exploded in Zabul Province. He and Staff Sgt. Daniel Frazier, of St. Joseph, Mich., were delivering supplies to a forward operating base when they died.

Cleaver was with Company E, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

On Monday, Master Sgt. Gary Qualls with the 82nd Airborne Division sent out a statement saying that a memorial in honor of Cleaver and Frazier will be held in Afghanistan, but he did not have details.

Family members also are planning a local service. Those details are pending with Parker Mortuary in Joplin.

“We have talked about taking at least part of his ashes to Arlington,” said his mother, Teresa Cleaver, of Joplin, referring to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

She said she has been contacted by other officers with her son’s unit who told her that, on behalf of the troops he led, the John Cleaver Memorial Fund for Wounded Soldiers is being established. Donations may be made via Parker Mortuary.

Cleaver’s classmates — he was a 1992 graduate of Galena (Kan.) High School — also are planning a memorial fund, and contributions may be made in his name to the Galena Board of Education. Donations also may be made to South Joplin Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Cleaver, 36, who listed his home as Marysville, Wash., attended elementary and middle school in Joplin and high school in Galena. He later attended Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark., where he learned to fly small aircraft, and Crowder College in Neosho, where he became certified as an emergency medical technician. He also served as a volunteer firefighter in Carl Junction.

Cleaver joined the Navy in 1995 and reached the rank of petty officer. He enlisted in the Army in 2006. Shortly after arriving at Fort Bragg, N.C., he was deployed to Afghanistan as a convoy commander and medic. He already had served one 15-month tour with his unit in Afghanistan.

“Staff Sgt. Cleaver was one of the most disciplined paratroopers that I have ever had a chance to work with,” Capt. Burton Furlow, commander of Company E, said in the statement released by the 82nd Airborne Division. “He always set a standard and ensured that his paratroopers always meet that standard.”

Military citations

John Cleaver received numerous awards and decorations: Bronze Star; Purple Heart; Army Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Navy Unit Commendation with bronze oak leaf cluster; four Navy Efficiency Ribbons; Army Good Conduct Medal; Navy Good Conduct Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters; Navy Pistol Medal Silver E (for expert); Navy Battle “E” Silver Ribbon with wreath for four or more awards; National Defense Service Medal; Kosovo Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terror Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Medal; Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Action Badge; and Parachutist Badge.