An Ottumwa soldier who died on New Year’s Eve was remembered today in his hometown. The funeral of Corporal Jonathan Schiller included music, and the words of high school friend, Second Lieutenant John Puluska. Schiller was killed when an explosive device went off near his Humvee in Iraq.
Puluska said he learned from a mutual friend that Schiller had entered the Army.Puluska says he got Schiller’s phone number and called him up and “welcomed him into the brotherhood.” Puluska talked about how the Army had made Schiller a man, and directed the endless energy of his friend.
Puluska says he’s had opportunity to spend time with Schiller’s friends and family, and says Schiller was a leader, whether it was getting friends to conduct pranks, or accepting responsibility for painting the steps of the high school. Puluska says Schiller started from the very lowest rank in the Army and advanced to corporal.
Puluska says it didn’t surprise him to learn that Schiller went into the transportation corps in the Army after hearing of stories about how Schiller tried to explain to a police officer he was really only going 30, not 70 miles an hour in a 25-mile an hour speed zone.
Puluska talked about the last time he spoke with Schiller. He says he spoke with Schiller a few months ago and learned of his deployment, and didn’t know it would be the last time they ever talked.
Puluska says: “John, you will not be forgotten you are hero. Any you are loved by many people.” Puluska says Schiller is not a hero because he died, but is a hero because of the way he lived.
Reverend Paul Smith talked about Schiller’s faith during the funeral at Ottumwa High School’s auditorium. Smith says, “Jon knew his Lord and his Savior, Jesus Christ. Jon knew what he was fighting for and he knew and believed what he was fighting for.” Smith says the church got an e-mail from Schiller just a few days before he was killed and the e-mail said, “Don’t believe everything the media was portraying over there (Iraq).” Smith says, “He believed the troops, he was, making a difference.”
Smith says faith has also helped the family dealt with Schiller’s death, and related a conversation with Schiller’s dad Bill after Bill had learned of his son’s death. Smith says the father said he was “so very proud of his son” and says Bill Schiller thought he would be mad at God if his son ever died. But Smith says Bill Schiller was not mad, and Schiller said he has never felt as close to God as he does now.
Smith says Schiller believes his son is now in heaven. Smith says Bill Schiller told him this morning of a dream last night in which Jon came to him and said, “It ain’t nearly as good here as it is in heaven right now.” Jon Schiller was posthumously award the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Schiller was buried in the Silent City Cemetery in Monroe.
Schiller is survived by his mother and father, Elizabeth and Bill, and brothers Charlie and Max, all who live in Ottumwa.