Henderson Soldier Killed In Iraq - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/21/07-Henderson

Henderson Soldier Killed In Iraq

     A Henderson native is the latest east Texan to fall in combat in the fight against terrorism in Iraq. 25 year old army sergeant Johnny Mele was killed September 14th in Iraq. He was leading his squad into a home when an I-E-D exploded. His family is remembering him as a patriot.

    "Even as a kid I can remember him always wanting to be a soldier" said Johnny's uncle Frank Mele.

   For 5 generations Mele's family has served in the armed forces. From his great great grandfather in the civil war, his great grandfather in war world one, his grandfather, who torpedoed and sunk a Japanese cruiser in world war two, to Johnny.

     "I didn't believe it because he always said how safe he was, somehow you don't think it'll be your little grandson" said Johnny's grandmother , Ann Mele.

  "He died believing in what he was doing believing it was right and he never wavered on it he was always 100 percent behind it" Frank says.

     Mele's boyish looks concealed a tough-as-nails warrior who was committed to beating terrorism,  he volunteered for a 3rd tour in Iraq.

  "When it came to his service , a true soldier. Very dedicated" Ann says.

  "And he's so brave and so tough and true hero" said Johnny's aunt Judy Mele.

  His family is firm that his life wasn't wasted.

  "He did things worth doing, he'll forever be missed by all of us" Judy says.

   They're left only with his memory, and the thought that as long as there are men like Johnny Mele,  we'll always have heroes.

    "I feel if they're all like Johnny, that we're gonna win" Ann says.

    Sergeant Mele leaves behind a wife and daughter. He will be laid to rest with honors at Arlington national cemetery on September 27th. Bob Hallmark/bhallmark@kltv.com.

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