Relatives pays tribute

Posted February 24th, 2009 by admin

Uncle Pays Tribute

Fran Richard, the uncle of Jonathan Roberge has created a permanent tribute to Jonathan on his left arm. Below is a photo of the tattoo that Fran had done. Nice Job Fran….He would be proud!

Tattoo in Honor of Jonathan Roberge

Tattoo in Honor of Jonathan Roberge

Cousin Pays Tribute

Liv Richard has also established a tattoo in honor of Jonathan. See below for the photo.


Liv Richard Tattoo

Liv Richard Tattoo

Hundreds say goodbye to fallen soldier.

Posted February 20th, 2009 by Jonathan Roberge

Hundreds say goodbye to fallen soldier

(Greg Wayland, NECN) – Hundreds gathered in Leominster, Massachusetts to celebrate the life of a local hero killed in Iraq. Funeral services were held today for 22-year-old Army Private First Class Jonathan Roberge.

School children lined the streets waving flags as the hearse carrying the casket made its way to St. Cecilia’s Church.

Roberge was killed by a suicide car bomber near Mosul, Iraq, while on patrol in a Humvee. The family said he went to Iraq in December.

Monsignor James Moroney said Roberge wanted to make people safe and make a difference in the world.

Roberge was a 2005 graduate of Leominster High School’s Center for Technical Education. The soldier has two younger sisters and a younger brother.

Information from the Associated Press is included in this report.

By Megan Woolhouse
Globe Staff / February 20, 2009

LEOMINSTER – A lifelong part of this community, Private Jonathan Roberge was eulogized yesterday in the church where he was baptized.

Jonathan Roberge

Jonathan Roberge

More than 1,200 people filled the pews at St. Cecilia Roman Catholic Church for the funeral of the 22-year-old hometown boy, who left his family and the comfort of the familiar a year ago to join the Army and become a tank driver.

On Feb. 9, a roadside explosive killed Roberge and three passengers in the Humvee he was driving through the streets of Mosul, Iraq. Yesterday, Monsignor James P. Moroney in his eulogy told the mourners to remember Roberge as a patriot.

“His hunger and thirst for righteousness brought him to defend you and me on a narrow street in Mosul,” Moroney said. “He wanted to make a difference in the world. He wanted to make people safe.”

The war in Iraq has been overshadowed in recent months by the country’s deepening economic crisis. But in Leominster, when Roberge’s body arrived on a plane at Hanscom Air Force Base earlier this week, and for his wake at City Hall and funeral yesterday – crowds have lined the streets, often two and three deep, to pay their respects. In yesterday morning’s gray drizzle, many waved flags. Strangers stood on their porches and taped handmade messages on the windows of three-decker apartment buildings. “God Bless Jonathan,” one said.

Sergeant Daniel C. Maes of the Massachusetts National Guard, which arranges all funerals for servicemen and women from the state, said the outpouring was unlike any he had seen.

“It’s the community’s first casualty since Vietnam, so that has something to do with it,” he said. “But there’s also just a tremendous sense of community here.”

The mourners included many local elected officials and Governor Deval Patrick.

Roberge lived on Johnny Appleseed Lane with his parents, John and Pauline. He was a Boy Scout.

In 2005, he graduated from the Center for Technical Education at Leominster High School. After a stint as an auto mechanic at a local dealership, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to basic training at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

His close friend, Mike Denning, said at yesterday’s funeral service that he talked to Roberge nearly every Sunday by phone while he was away. Denning broke down as he recalled good times with “Johnny Ro.”

Once, the two and other teenage friends went looking for a kiddie pool on a hot day. When they found one, Roberge lounged in it wearing a snorkel, goggles, and an inner tube at his waist.

“He sat in there for hours, pretending he was a diver,” Denning said. “That was classic Johnny Ro. That’s what made everyone love him so much.”

Mark Matley recalled how his godson loved visiting fire stations as a very young boy. As he grew older, he could tell the fire engines apart just by listening to their sirens. Nothing thrilled him more.

“He was a great kid, and a great man,” Matley said. “Remember his smile.”

After basic training, Roberge was stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and chosen to become a driver for Lieutenant Colonel Garnet R. Derby. Derby, 44, of Missoula, Mont., Sergeant Joshua A. Ward, 30, of Scottsville, Ky., and Private Albert R. Jex, 23, of Phoenix also were killed in the Humvee explosion.

Yesterday, Roberge’s parents accepted posthumous honors for their son, including the Bronze Star, from military officials as Roberge’s younger siblings, Sarah, Meghan, and Andrew watched. Many in the crowd grew tearful as a soloist sang “Ave Maria” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Andrew Roberge, 11, carried a box of tissues as his parents left the church in tears, surrounded by priests and altar boys.

Crowds stood outside the church as Roberge’s casket, draped in a flag, was loaded onto a black horse-drawn caisson. Church bells and the scuffling of feet and horses’ hooves were the only sounds as the procession departed, headed to St. Cecelia’s Cemetery nearby.

Ashley Brassard, 23, watched. Dressed in green military fatigues, she said she recently enlisted with the Air Force and expects to be deployed in June, although it’s unclear where. She, too, is a Leominster native, and she said Roberge’s funeral stirred difficult emotions for her and her family.

“It touches close to home,” she said.

Family is very Proud of Jonathan

Posted February 19th, 2009 by admin

Josh Brogadir, from NECN sat with the family on Feb 15th.

PFC Roberge is laid to rest today

Posted February 19th, 2009 by admin

Thousands of People line the streets

Posted February 19th, 2009 by admin

Thousands of salute Army Pfc. Jonathan Roberge as his body returns to Leominster
By Marisa Donelan
Sentinel and Enterprise

LEOMINSTER — Brian McCarty of Gardner stood in front of Leominster City Hall on Tuesday morning, holding a large American flag high in honor of a hero.

He joined thousands of people who lined the streets of the city to welcome home the body of fallen Army Pfc. Jonathan Roberge, who died last Monday in Iraq when an explosive detonated near the Humvee he was driving.

“My daughter, who lives in Leominster, called me and told me they’re bringing him home today,” McCarty said. “He’s a hero. I sped down here just to welcome him home.”

McCarty’s flag was a gift from his own son, who is serving in the Army and brought it home for his father from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, he said.

“I feel so sorry for all of the families who have

Brian McCarty of Gardner waves a flag on West Street that his son, Army Sgt. Brian William McCarty, Jr. brought back from Guantanamo Bay, while he waits for the procession of Jonathan Roberge through downtown Leominster, Tuesday morning. (SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE / BRETT CRAWFORD)
lost loved ones in this war,” he said. “They’re all close to our hearts, it doesn’t matter whether they’re from Arizona, Florida or Leominster. They’re all out there for us.”
Roberge, a 2005 graduate of Leominster High School’s Center for Technical Education, joined the Army last January and deployed to Iraq in December.

The blast that killed him also killed three other men from his unit, the Department of Defense reported.

Roberge’s family, along with Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella and city Veterans Services Officer Richard Voutour, met a plane carrying his body at the Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford on Tuesday morning. That’s where the recognition started, Voutour said, as people from all over the base stood along Hanscom streets.


A State Police escort led a hearse and limousines from the Brandon Funeral Home on Route 2; they were joined along the way by a truck from the Leominster Fire Department and dozens of motorcycle riders from the Patriot Guard, a volunteer group that provides escorts for military families.

Voutour and Mazzarella said fire departments from towns along the route sent out ladder trucks holding flags in the air, and police departments sent cruisers out to exits all along Route 2.

“There were concentrations of people all over,” Voutour said. “All the way down the route there were fire departments who had brought their ladder trucks out, with American flags draped between the ladders. It was very impressive.”

Mazzarella said “there are no words” to describe what it means for so many people to show their respect and support for the soldier and his family.

“It was amazing, just so powerful,” he said.

People stopped all along Route 2 and on the highway overpasses to watch the procession, Mazzarella said.

“This family has just touched the community,” Mazzarella said of the Roberges. “They’ve really brought up their kids well, they’ve instilled that sense of community service and kindness.”

In Leominster, people packed the procession route, standing three or four deep along the Leominster Connector and Mechanic Street, to watch as the procession went through the city and up West Street into Fitchburg to the funeral home.

Leominster resident Jon Williams, 27, said he was glad to see a lot of children standing out during their February school vacation, waving flags as the family passed through the city.

“Kids are exactly the ones who need to understand, they have the freedom they enjoy because of people like Jonathan and everyone else who serves,” Williams said.

Sisters Anne Andrews, Christine Delisle and Kathleen Mills all went to downtown Leominster to hold flags in honor of Roberge.

They grew up in the Vietnam War era, and watched as servicemen were scorned by protesters when they returned home from combat.

“We’re not going to let that happen again to our soldiers,” Delisle said. “(Roberge) wanted to make a difference, and I think he made a difference in this whole community.”

Delisle said she and her family members recognize that “this 22-year-old young man gave his life for me, for all of us.”

Mills said she attended the procession out of respect for the Roberge family and out of patriotism.

“This turnout is awesome,” she said. “I’m very proud of Leominster today.”

Police Chief Peter Roddy said the size of the crowd was heartwarming.

“People just really want to show their support for the family,” Roddy said. “It’s a very, very sad loss for the community.”

Ward 3 City Councilor Claire Freda — whose husband died from wounds sustained in Vietnam — stood by Helen Hill — whose son David Hill died in Vietnam in 1969 at the age of 22 — and said the lessons of the Vietnam generation have shown a need to honor the military.

The size of Tuesday morning’s crowd proved the value Leominster residents place on service, Freda said.

“All you have to do is ask, and this community steps up,” she said. “People know what to do, they really care.”

City Councilor at-large and State Rep. Dennis Rosa, D-Leominster, said the procession was “spectacular.” Rosa, who served in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, said he was moved by the turnout.

“It’s especially comforting for those of us who lived through that time,” he said. “People now may differ in their opinions on the war, but they certainly put those feelings aside and came through.”

Ward 5 City Councilor Richard Marchand called the procession and the turnout “a great tribute to one of Leominster’s heroes.”

“We in this community, at a time of such great loss, know it’s important to let the family know that we care deeply,” he said.

Roberge’s body will lie in state 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. today at Leominster City Hall, 25 West St., and his family will receive visitors at a wake from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in City Hall.

His funeral Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Cecilia’s Church, 180 Mechanic St.

Leominster, Ma pays tribute.

Posted February 18th, 2009 by Jonathan Roberge

Photos From the Vigil

Posted February 18th, 2009 by admin

Please visit the photo gallery, located on the gallery link to the right. Ed Collier of the Telegram and Gazette has kindly shared his most amazing photos with us for you to see.

Jonathan Roberge Arrives Home

Posted February 17th, 2009 by admin

Jonathan Roberge Arrives Home in Leominster

NECN Coverage of the Vigil

Posted February 17th, 2009 by admin