Justin T. Paton—July 2007 Shipment Honoree
Alanson, Michigan man dies in combat in IraqSource: Cheboygan Daily Tribune Iraq War Hereos
By Mike Fornes, February 20, 2007
ALANSON – A 2000 graduate of Inland Lakes High School was killed Saturday in Iraq. The family of Army Pfc. Justin T. Paton of Alanson received notification Monday that he died when his patrol came under fire 40 miles north of Baghdad.
“We know that he is back in the States now, he’s in Dover, Del.,” said Paton’s sister, Stormy Dickinson. “We can’t make any kind of arrangements for his funeral until we get a date when he can come home.”
Dickinson said her brother was a member of the 1st Cavalry Division, Delta Company and had recently been named the unit’s leader. He was deployed to Iraq on Oct. 31, 2006. He had worked as a rehabilitation technician at Northern Michigan Hospital before joining the Army in 2005.
Family members said that Paton was born on July 4, 1982, and always thought that the fireworks were for his birthday. “They will be from now on,” all agreed.
Paton’s high school football coach remembered him Monday as “a bright young man and a fantastic kid – the kind of kid you hope your own son grows up to be.”
Inland Lakes Principal Don Killingbeck also recalled a visit he received from Paton, 24, last fall just before he went overseas. “He stopped in the school last fall,” Killingbeck said. “He had acquired a real physical presence with all his weight-lifting since I had last seen him, he looked like a pro football player. I gave him an Inland Lakes T-shirt to wear over there.”
Killingbeck said he had also taught Paton in a driver’s education class. “Indian River has lost a good son and a bright leader, someone who would have come back and had the ability to serve the community and be productive,” Killingbeck stated.
The son of Donald and Shelley Paton of Alanson, Justin is also survived by a sister, Stormy Dickinson, a brother Alan Parkey and numerous other family members.
Cheboygan Co. man killed while on duty in IraqSource: Traverse County Record Eagle
By Sheri McWhirter, February 20, 2007
INDIAN RIVER — Sniper fire killed a local solider in Iraq. U.S. Army Pfc. Justin Paton, 24, died Saturday while on duty in the war zone, 40 miles north of Baghdad. His parents are Donald and Shelley Paton of Alanson, although they live in Cheboygan County, about halfway between Alanson and Indian River.
“I want everyone to know how wonderful he was,” said Stormy Dickinson, his sister. “We’ve lost someone so important to us, so full of life.”
Justin Paton graduated in 2000 from Inland Lakes High School in Indian River and played football his senior year. He was deployed to Iraq in October as a member of the Army’s 1st Calvary Division, Delta Company.
Dickinson said her “baby brother” wanted to be a doctor and joined the Army for benefits he would receive under the GI Bill of Rights, which would have paid for his education after he was discharged.
Paton loved to go “two-tracking” and was an avid kayaker. “He carried his kayak on his car and if he saw something interesting, he’d go right for it,” Dickinson said.
Paton volunteered and then was hired as a patient care technician at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey before he joined the military.
“He was a fine young man, bright, honest and outgoing,” said Don Killingbeck, principal of Inland Lakes High School and Justin’s former social studies and driver’s education teacher. “He was all heart and he wanted to help people. He wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and he believed in what he was doing in Iraq.”
Paton corresponded with third-grade students at his former school, his nephew’s class. Those children were somber on Monday, Killingbeck said. “They don’t really understand what happened,” he said. “This is the first time we’ve lowered the flag for one of our own sons.”
In a recent e-mail message Paton sent to a friend from the war zone, he talked about the joy of receiving letters from the schoolchildren and also his desire to come home. “I am glad I am here. I would like to be home. But like I said before, if an American back home could look into the eyes of a child here, see the pain and horrors that they see daily, maybe their outlook would change,” he wrote.
Paton was a member of Walloon Lake Community Church, where no special services have yet been planned.
Paton also had a brother, Adam Parkey of Alanson, plus a large extended family. A full military funeral will take place when Paton’s body returns to northern Michigan.
Friends salute Alanson soldier, killed in IraqSource: Gaylord Herald Times
By Fred Gray and Maggie Peterson, News-Review Staff Writers
Posted: Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Army Pfc. Justin Paton, 24, the son of Donald and Shelley Paton of Alanson, was killed Saturday in Iraq, a close friend of the family said Monday.
Jerry Carpentier of Alanson, a friend of the Patons and a custodian at Petoskey Middle School, said he had spent much of the weekend with the Patons and was able to confirm that Justin had been killed in or near Baghdad.
Justin’s death was also confirmed by Justin’s uncle, Tom Paton, who was visiting with the family over the weekend. He said members of Justin’s immediate family were to meet with military officials later Monday to learn the details of Justin’s death.
Carpentier said he had been friends with the Patons for years, and had known Justin almost from birth. He said Justin had graduated from Inland Lakes High School in 2000.
Frank Holes, a former principal at Inland Lakes High School, said he remembered Justin as a quiet but friendly student.
“He was kind of a quiet kid in school,” Holes said. “He was a good student, he was always friendly, seemed to have lots of friends but he wasn’t the kind of kid that did anything outlandish or drew attention to himself.”
He added that Justin was interested in technology, and that he and a group of friends would often fix equipment at the school. “He was just a really, really nice kid. Just one of these kids that doesn’t draw attention, that doesn’t say, ‘Look at me,’ but he was steady and he was a good kid. He was a good representation of his school and his community and his parents, one of those silent leaders that was always doing things the right way and unfortunately doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” Holes said.
Carpentier, who said he was like an uncle to Justin, said Justin was “very easy-going, a good guy.” He said Justin liked to kayak and to be outside. “My wife and I spent time with them and shared our common interests in hunting and fishing and camping. Justin liked to camp when he was young and even when he grew older he would always come to the campsite to visit us.”
Carpentier said Justin loved rock gardening as a hobby, an interest that grew into a job with Dross Landscaping of Alanson.
Justin was a member of Walloon Lake Community Church.
He had a sister, Stormy Dickenson, and a brother, Adam Parkey, both of Alanson, and many nieces and nephews.
Soldier loved, called heroSource: Petoskey News-Review By Maggie Peterson News-Review Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The air of Walloon Lake Community Church was laden with sorrow and tears as friends and family gathered to pay their respects to Army Pfc. Justin Travis Paton Monday.
A few who knew Paton shared their thoughts of the Alanson soldier.
Friend Jacob Smith said he had many fond memories of things they had done together. “Paton was a hero, my hero,” Smith said. “I loved him and I’m going to miss him.”
Paton, 24, was killed Feb. 17 in Iraq by a sniper.
He was a 2000 graduate of Inland Lakes High School who enlisted in the Army in 2005 and was deployed to Iraq Oct. 31. He had recently been named his unit’s leader.
The mother of a man who served with Paton said her son told her of Paton’s dedication. “Justin was huge in our platoon,” she said on behalf of her son. “He loved us and we loved him.”
The Rev. Jeff Ellis, who officiated the service, said Paton was a man who was committed to his faith and he was certain Paton crossed the bridge to eternity. “I have hope and faith and confidence today that Justin crossed that bridge,” he said.
Ellis shared e-mail messages from Paton and a letter he wrote to his aunt, Joyce. In the letter, Paton said he missed his family and friends, and hoped they knew how much he loved and appreciated them. “I wouldn’t want any other life than the one I was raised with,” Paton wrote. Paton added that despite missing home, he had become close with others he was serving with and that they helped each other through the good and bad.
A slide show with photographs of Paton with family and friends was shown, after which Army Brig. Gen. John R. Bartley shared messages by fellow soldiers from a memorial service for Paton.
Bartley said Paton’s company commander remembered Paton always was looking out for the safety of the platoon, was one of the most organized soldiers he had met and was a gentle giant. “He would take the shirt off his back if you asked him,” the company commander said.
Paton’s parents were presented with honors Paton received for his service. He was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Outside the church following the service, a volley of 21 shots was given in Paton’s honor and “Taps” was played. His parents, Donald and Shelley Paton, accepted a folded American flag in honor of their son. Paton was laid to rest at Ohioville Cemetery in Indian River.
The members of Landstuhl Hospital Care Project were honored to remember Justin during the month of July 2007 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 Justin’s family and friends today and in the years to come.