FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - The Department of Defense says a 22-year-old Great Falls soldier based at Fort Campbell has died in Afghanistan.
Spc. Jonathan A. Pilgeram of Great Falls died Thursday in Konar province from wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Pilgeram, who graduated from Centerville High School southeast of Great Falls in 2007, was remembered by the school's principal for his work ethic and loyalty to his friends, his school and the military.
"Jon was a farmer/rancher," principal Matt McCale told the Great Falls Tribune on Friday. "I can remember him coming to school when he was in third, fourth grade. He had spent the morning working with the cows, and sometimes he had a little cow manure on his boot."
McCale said he saw Pilgeram last summer when the soldier was home on leave from Afghanistan, and the two talked for hours about Pilgeram's experiences in the Army.
McCale said that after he listened to the stories, including those of combat situations Pilgeram was involved in, he asked him if he ever got scared.
"He told me 'No, Mr. McCale. . . . We have a job to do, and this is what we're paid to do and this is what we're supposed to do,'" the principal said. "It was just life at that time.
"The way Jon talked, I can see him probably be first in line," McCale added. "He wasn't afraid, I can guarantee that. He wasn't afraid - he was going to stand up and do his job."
The principal said school officials haven't had a chance to discuss it yet, but he knows they will do something to honor Pilgeram.
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