Jason Graham Pautsch

1988 - 2009

Iraq War

Their Story

Jason Graham Pautsch was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on October 1, 1988, to Teri (Bryan) Johnson and David Pautsch. He had four siblings. He was home-schooled until 5th grade and then attended Wood Junior High.[1]  He loved adventure in the outdoors, including hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking. He worked at the Green Thumbers as a teenager.  He graduated early from Davenport North High School in 2006.

Jason enlisted in the Army in January 2007, finishing basic training in May and Airborne School in June. He deployed to Iraq in September 2008, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. He was a squadron leader and was expected home in May 2009 for a break, and then return for another five months to finish his tour of duty. However, he was killed at the age of 20 on April 10, 2009, in Mosul, Iraq, after a suicide bomber rammed a truck into a wall outside an Iraqi police station. Jason was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

Jason Graham Pautsch
Jason Graham Pautsch

On the Easter after Jason’s death, he and his fallen comrades arrived at Dover Air Force Base in a chartered jet. The arrival of the five soldiers was only the fourth dignified transfer ceremony to be open to the media since the Pentagon ended an 18-year ban on press coverage of the events earlier that month.[2] White-gloved soldiers and airmen meticulously carried the five flag-draped transfer cases from the jet to a truck, which took them to the military’s largest mortuary.

Terrorists associated with a multinational terrorist network carried out the attack on the U.S. Military’s Forward Operating Base Marez.[3] The terrorists drove a truck laden with explosives to the gate of FOB Marez and exchanged fire with Iraqi police officers guarding the base and then with an American convoy exiting the base.  The truck detonated alongside the last vehicle in the convoy, leaving a 60-foot crater in the ground.  Jason and four other American soldiers were killed, including Staff Sgt. Gary L. Woods Jr., Sgt. 1st Class Bryan E. Hall, Sgt. Edward W. Forrest Jr., and Pfc. Bryce E. Gautier.

Jason Graham Pautsch Gravesite
Jason Graham Pautsch Gravesite

Fort Carson, Colorado, the home base of the five men, had one of the highest number of Iraq casualties, with more than 250 men and women killed in fighting and accidents in the region.[4]

In January of 2011, an Edmonton, Canada, man was accused of aiding the terror group that was responsible for the death of Jason and his fellow soldiers. U.S. officials alleged at that time that Faruq Khalil Mohammad Isa, 38, an Iraqi Canadian, wanted to conduct a suicide bombing himself, and told his mother, “His greatest wish was to die a martyr and be greeted by 70 virgins in paradise.”[5]

Ten years later, in federal court in Brooklyn, Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release by United States District Judge Roslynn R. Mauskopf for his role in conspiring to murder the U.S. soldiers in Iraq.  ‘Isa pleaded guilty to the charge in March 2018.[6]

“With today’s sentence, ‘Isa has been held accountable for his role in a deadly conspiracy that ultimately contributed to the tragic loss of five U.S. soldiers in Iraq,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue.  “This Office, together with the FBI, the NYPD and all the members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, will take every step necessary to apprehend and prosecute terrorists, wherever they are located, in furtherance of our fundamental mission of protecting the American people.”

Jason’s funeral was attended by over 500 people, including the governors of both Iowa and Illinois.[7] An honor guard, made up of Quad-Cities area police officers and led by Davenport Police Capt. David Struckman, entered and saluted Cpl. Pautsch.  The funeral procession to the Rock Island National Cemetery was over an hour long. Strangers stood in front yards and on sidewalks in Bettendorf, some holding flags, others with hats held to their chest. Hundreds lined the sidewalks at the Rock Island Arsenal as the long line of vehicles passed by with flashers on. A 21-gun salute echoed through the air. Taps played.

In 2010, to assist with healing from her grief, Jason’s mother, Teri, started a non-profit she named Jason’s Box. She began by sending care packages to service members who were deployed. She remembered how Jason and another son, Jared (who also served), loved receiving care packages. Many local organizations got involved to support the effort. The organization evolved into also providing military culture and PTSD training to healthcare workers and clergy. Currently, the Jason’s Box focus, according to current president Joseph A. Tirone, COL, U.S. Army (ret.) on their Facebook page, is to offer severely injured combat veterans free hunting, reloading, fishing, and outdoor recreational opportunities.


[1] CPL Jason Graham Pautch – Find A Grave

[2] Gary L Woods Jr- OurWarHeroes.org – Tribute sites by Q Madp (iraqwarheroes.org)

[3] Defendant Sentenced to 26 Years’ Imprisonment for Conspiring to Murder Five U.S. Soldiers | USAO-EDNY | Department of Justice

[4] The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware) · 13 Apr 2009, Mon · Page 2

[5] Fort McMurray Today (Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada) · 20 Jan 2011, Thu · Page 5

[6] Defendant Sentenced to 26 Years’ Imprisonment for Conspiring to Murder Five U.S. Soldiers | USAO-EDNY | Department of Justice

[7] ‘One of us is missing’: Friends, family, soldiers, governors bid farewell to Cpl. Jason Pautsch