Jon Tumilson
A Biographical Sketch


Date Of Birth: July 1, 1976
Date Of Death: August 6, 2011

Petty Officer Jon T. Tumilson, was a native of Rockford, Floyd county, Iowa.

On August 6, 2011, he was involved in a special operations (Special Ops) operation in Afghanistan, when he was killed in a helicopter crash. He was aboard a Chinook helicopter when it was shot down by Taliban fighters. A total of 38 men were killed in the crash.

Jon Tumilson was born on July 1, 1976, at Osage, Mitchell county, Iowa. He joined the United States Navy on July 17, 1995 -- following graduation from the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School. He then graduated from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, in September 1995. He completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School, Coronado, California, in April 2002.

He had served in three west-coast based Special Warfare units and in two east-coast based Special Warfare units, and held the rank of Petty Officer at the time of his death. He had deployed on multiple deployments to both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Tumilson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal. His other awards include Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Action Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Rifle Expert and Pistol Expert Medals, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

He is survived by his parents, George and Kathleen Tumilson, of Rockford; two sisters, Kristie Pohlman (Brad Hartgraves), of Cedar Rapids, and Joy (Scott) McMeekan, of Taylor Ridge, Illinois; six nieces and nephews: Kobey Pohlman, Kamryn Pohlman, Kelsi McMeekan, Kaitlyn Pohlman, Sydney McMeekan, Isabella McMeekan; 21 aunts, uncles and cousins; and his trusted canine friend, Hawkeye.

Above is a photo of his dog, Hawkeye, laying on the floor in front of Tumilson's casket during the funeral services.

Petty Officer Tumilson was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Thomas and Nell Tumilson; and maternal grandparents, John and Leona Jacobs.

Funeral services for Tumilson were held on Friday, August 19, 2011, at the Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock Community School gymnasium. Burial was at Riverside Cemetery in Rockford.

It was said that when Tumilson set his mind to something, he achieved it, becoming a Navy SEAL despite his battered knees, and competing in endurance races to prepare for the arduous missions he'd be sent on.

Neighbors, said they were heartbroken for the family, and said the town had lost one of its finest. It was also said that Jon had planned to be a Navy SEAL while he was in high school.

In high school, Tumilson had been a wrestler, and had competed in marathons and triathlons as part of his preparation for the dangerous and often arduous missions with the SEALS. While in training, they were going to kick him out because his knees were all battered up -- but he wouldn't let them do it.

He was a die-hard at everything, and would always go the extra mile on everything. He wouldn't let anything stop him from accomplishing something.

He was willing to do whatever it took. He wanted to be there with his SEAL team -- it was his second family; and Tumilson loved his country.

American flags flew at half-staff in Rockford on Wednesday -- up and down Main Street, at the post office and at City Hall, a hometown salute to one of the town's own. At the high school in Rockford, a digital sign flashed the a message: U.S. Navy SEAL, Class of 1995, Jon Tumilson, Remembered -- Never Forgotten."

Another sign downtown shared a more personal message: "God Bless Our Hometown Hero. The ultimate sacrifice of you and your team defending our freedom will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your family and friends, forever and always." Tumilson will be remembered as an 'all around down-to-earth guy.'

“Everybody that knew him is just shocked,” a local resident said. “You just never thought it would happen to Jon. He’s done so many dangerous things.”

“Coming from a small town and what he accomplished as a Navy SEAL, fighting for his country," a local resident said, "it was a miracle.”

Tumilson, the son of George and Kathy Tumilson, Rockford, joined the Navy after graduating from Rockford High School in 1995. From there he worked his way up to the U.S. Navy SEALs. “Basically, all the way through school, at least the later part, he had his mind made up that that’s what he wanted to do,” said Justin Schriever, a friend, “He told himself and all his friends and family that’s what he was going to do.”

“He was a diehard at everything,” Schriever said. “He’d always go the extra mile on everything. He wouldn’t let anything stop him from accomplishing something.” Tumilson was especially dedicated to running and staying in shape. It was said that it wasn't uncommon to see him run anywhere from 14 to 25 miles a day.

In July, 2013, a statue of Jon and his dog was unveiled at Rockford. The AP said, "A small northern Iowa town unveiled a statue honoring a Navy SEAL killed in 2011 in Afghanistan and his loyal dog remembered for lying beside the soldier's casket.

"The bronze statue of Jon Tumilson and his dog, Hawkeye, was unveiled Friday at a dedication ceremony. It now stands in Rockford's Fossil and Prairie Park, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported Saturday."

Kathy Tumilson (center) hugs family as a statue of her son, Jon Tumilson, is unveiled. (Click for bigger version)
The AP continued, "His dog led family members into Tumilson's funeral service and lay by his casket during the ceremony. Photos and video of the funeral went viral, a touching moment after one of the deadliest attacks during the decade-long war."

The statue was created by Jeff Adams, of Mount Morris, Illinis, and depicts Tumilson and Hawkeye running. U.S. Navy Lt. Robert Bradshaw said, at the unveiling ceremony, that Jon Tumilson was "A gift to us." And that "he was fully secure in who he was," adding, "JT was a man of faith, a warrior."

Saturday events included Freedom Fest, a music concert and fireworks. Proceeds from the event went to "3 Minutes Out," the foundation which the family set up following Jon's death.

This biographical sketch derived from news articles and other materials in Mason City Globe Gazette, Des Moines Register, Hauser Funeral Home, Newstimes.com, Associated Press, and the Waterloo Daily Courier.

Compiled by K. Kittleson, 2/2012
Revised by K. Kittleson, 7/2013