Army Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh, a member of the
Homewood class of 2003, was killed April 7 while on patrol
with his unit in Zaganiyah, Iraq.
President Brody, in a letter informing the Johns
Hopkins community, said that the Department of Defense
reported that Grassbaugh and three other soldiers died when
an improvised explosive device detonated near them. A
winner of the Bronze Star and a number of other
decorations, Grassbaugh, 25, was serving his second tour of
duty in Iraq.
Grassbaugh earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from
the Whiting School of Engineering. He is survived by his
wife, the former Jenna Parkinson, who concurrently earned
bachelor's and master's degrees in history in 2006 from
the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. The couple met as
ROTC cadets, when
Jenna was a freshman and Jonathan a senior. They were
married last June, shortly before Jonathan was deployed to
"I don't think I have to tell you that I am beyond
heartbroken and have no way to describe to you what a loss
this represents not only to me but to the community and to
the world," said Jenna Grassbaugh, now a first-year law
student at the College of William & Mary. "He was more than
I could ever ask for in a husband, and he was more than my
husband--he was my best friend, my other half, and now he
is my angel in heaven."
Lt. Col. (retired) Charles Roller, who was a professor
of military science at Johns Hopkins until 2005, said, "In
my nine years teaching ROTC--three at Duke and six at
JHU--Jonathan Grassbaugh was by far one of the most
energetic and conscientious young men that I had the honor
to teach. He was active in all ROTC activities and was the
driving force behind the JHU Ranger Challenge team winning
brigade competitions two years in a row and the battalion
being rated third in the nation among 270 ROTC units. He
was honest and cared a great deal about the cadets placed
in his charge.
"Jon was selected as the Cadet Battalion Commander in
his senior year and continued to impress the cadre with his
energy and desire to improve the JHU ROTC program," Roller
said. "Coming from a military family, Jon's desire to serve
his nation was instilled in him from an early age. He was
an impressive cadet and student at JHU and was an officer
who was greatly respected by his soldiers and peers. Jon
will be missed but not forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers
go out to Jon's wife and family in this time of sorrow."
Yair Amir, a professor of computer science and
Jonathan Grassbaugh's academic adviser, recalls that
Grassbaugh's experiences with the Blue Jay Battalion had
matured him, but that he was also youthful and energetic.
Friends say that Grassbaugh came into his own here at
Hopkins, where he went from shy and reserved to holding
leadership roles within the Blue Jay Battalion, and that he
was especially committed to its challenging Pershing Rifles
military honor society. Amir also noted that Grassbaugh was
dedicated to his life in the military.
"He was excited about it, and I was excited about it
for him, but there is always that uncertainty," Amir said.
"I didn't think something was going to happen, but I knew
that something could."
Preparations are under way for a memorial service on
the Homewood campus. Those wishing to express their
condolences to the family should send them to Jonathan's
parents, Mark and Patricia Grassbaugh, 50 Partridge Lane,
East Hampstead, NH 03826.
"This sudden loss brings home to each of us not only
the tragedy of war but also the courage, integrity and
commitment of the men and women who wear the uniform and
represent us all," Brody said. "The death of a well-loved
member of our Johns Hopkins community diminishes us all,
but it is Jonathan's life we should honor and remember. It
is his life from which we should all take inspiration."