• Jon at Age 1

  • Jon at Age 3

  • Jon at Age 5

  • Jon at Age 12

  • Jon at AIT Graduation

  • Jon's Best Wishes Party

  • Sergeant Jonathan “Jon” Cadavero touched your heart as soon as you met him.
    He was caring and warm, very funny, he could make anyone laugh, he was everyone’s friend, he gave people a sense of belonging. One of the passages he highlighted in his Bible was Proverbs 3:27: “Whenever you possibly can, do good to those who need it.” And that was exactly how Jon lived his life.

    Jon was always a soldier.
    Even when he was a little boy. Some of his family’s earliest memories of Jon are of him playing with his G.I. Joe’s, and saying “That’s going to be me someday.” He and his older sister, Kristia, would pretend to be soldiers as they played outside their upstate NY home as they were growing up.

    Jon was a comedian.
    He was born with a natural sense of humor. Jon loved to laugh and joke, imitate other people, and could contort his face like a professional mime. His comedy would occasionally cause him to get in trouble at school, but his teacher would usually end up laughing, too, and forget what she was mad about.

    Jon was a protector.
    Even as a small child, Jon was protective of people. During his elementary school years at the Waldwick Seventh-Day Adventist School, Jon not only stood up to bullies, but he befriended the bullied. He reprimanded anyone he heard being mean, even when they were twice his age or size.

    Jon was filled with compassion.
    He paid attention to classmates that no one else noticed, and made a point to speak with those who were shy. If a child at school forgot their lunch, Jon would give them his. During middle school he began visiting elderly veterans in our hometown; he would listen to their stories for hours and thank them for their service every time he said good-bye. His kindness even transferred to animals; when Jon was 12 years old his parents allowed him to get a dog. When he was choosing from a liter of Shetland Sheepdogs, he picked the smallest puppy there, who was very sickly and not expected to live. But Jon nursed Rusty to health and was a devoted master.

    Jon was a rebel.
    At least that’s the word he called himself in high school, not being content with the term “leader.” Not being one to follow the crowd, he “blazed his own trail,” as he liked to say. He was a natural leader, someone others could depend on. With integrity and resolve Jon stood up for what he believed in and for what was right, even if others didn’t agree, and even if he stood alone.

    Jon was a volunteer.
    During vacations throughout his college years, Jon would volunteer at the Waldwick Seventh-Day Adventist school that he had graduated from. He was a substitute teacher and chapel speaker. Mrs. Alipia Gonzales, the current principal, fondly remembers that Jon would walk into her office and say, “I think you need a break; just tell me what I can do to help.”

    Jon was a historian.
    Jon and his sister Kristia grew up hearing the stories from our maternal grandparents of how they fled Ukraine when it was controlled by Stalin, how they lived in Germany throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s under fascism, and how grateful they were to finally come to America. His mother instilled a love of history in him, and Jon chose to minor in it at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland, where he attended school for 4 years.

    Jon was a patriot.
    He really loved his country and was so proud of America. It was natural that when Jon grew up he wanted to defend the country he loved so much. He had many options available to him after graduating college with honors; but Jon proudly enlisted in the US Army. He believed that it was during war time when his country most needed him, and that by becoming a soldier he would protect us (as he had always done so instinctively since he was a child). Jon believed that, paraphrasing from his favorite song “American Soldier” by Toby Keith, there was a wolf growling at America’s door, and that the good should stand up for what is right and answer that call to duty.

    Jon was an American soldier.
    February 27, 2005 was Jon’s last day as a civilian. His family threw him a surprise party at his favorite restaurant; family, friends, and professors gathered to wish him well and safety. After completing basic training as one of the top soldiers in his class, Jon moved on to Medic School, and was then placed in the 10th Mountain Division based in Fort Drum, NY. When Jon received the news that he would be deployed to Iraq, he was eager to help the cause he believed in. He said to his sister, “Kris, I want to fight so that your kids don’t have to.” He was willing to make a sacrifice so that America’s children, and their children’s children, hopefully would never have to. He left for Iraq on August 13, 2006, and was stationed at Fort Stryker in Baghdad. Jon volunteered to become part of an elite team which had the perilous and important task of finding and neutralizing IED’s in the southern part of the city. During his home leave last November, he confessed to Kristia exactly what he was doing. She was terrified, and as a worried sister, she asked Jon if perhaps he couldn’t just stay on base and work at a medical clinic. But he refused; he said he needed to be on the front lines, because that was where he was most needed. As a medic with his valiant brothers in arms, he said he wanted to help stop this terrorist menace before it came back to his home. He was unspeakable brave, with limitless courage.

    Jon was a hero.
    Kristia’s last conversation with Jon was on February 12, 2007. Some of the last words she heard him say were, “I have no regrets, I would do it all over again, and I love being an American.” Jon’s journey on earth ended on the morning of February 27, 2007, two years to the day since his going-away party. He was part of a convoy heading out on their mission to find and destroy IED’s. The very device that he was hunting was the cause of the roadside bomb that hit the armored HUM-V he was a passenger in. His passing was instant; he did not suffer and he was not alone but with his band of brothers. Jon’s next journey began before he even knew that he was ending this one.

    Those who knew Jon well knew that he enjoyed receiving inspirational quotes. One of the last quotes he received was the final verse of the Star-Spangled Banner. It reads:

    “Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

    Thank you, Jon, for being one of the brave, and letting us continue to be free. You will always be in our hearts until the day when we are together again.