Area soldier dies in Iraq

January 21, 2008

WAPAKONETA — 5:23 p.m.,  Jan. 21 — Jon Michael “Mike” Schoolcraft III loved kids and wanted children of his own. He’d promised his mother, Cynthia Ann Schoolcraft, of Lima, that he would return home from his prolonged service in the Army and that when he returned, he said he wanted to start a family.However, Schoolcraft’s life ended Saturday in Iraq, his mother confirmed Monday afternoon.A 2001 graduate of Wapakoneta High School, Schoolcraft was killed Saturday. He had just turned 26 in December.Speaking briefly on the telephone Monday afternoon, Schoolcraft’s mother described her son as a brave soldier and a “very warm-hearted” man.She said members of the military came to her home earlier in the afternoon and notified her of her son’s death. “He planned to come home, which he promised me he would do since he enlisted,” she said, explaining that he enlisted out of high school. “I actually went through some of his pictures the other day. There are all kinds of pictures of him with kids.”Cynthia Schoolcraft said her son was recently married and he’d planned a long life with his wife.According to a wedding announcement in Sunday’s edition of The Lima News, he married Amber Leigh Van Weort at Salem United Methodist Church in Wapakoneta on Sept. 17.In school, Cynthia Schoolcraft said her son was involved in “everything” possible in terms of extracurricular activities, including wrestling, baseball, track and football.“He excelled in everything,” she said. "It’s a tragedy.” The soldier’s mother became emotional at times. She said, despite suffering from multiple sclerosis, she is holding up well or at least as well as could be expected.“The Army just came here a second ago,” she said. “He loved his family very much. He liked to kid around, and he was a good person and a good soldier. … From what I understand, his actions allowed others to survive and return home to their families. They told me he will receive the Purple Heart.”