A local soldier's parents remember their son

Col. (Ret.) David Brostrom
Col. (Ret.) David Brostrom
Mary Jo Brostrom
Mary Jo Brostrom

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HALAWA HEIGHTS (KHNL) -  A local soldier's parents remember their son, who died while serving in the Middle East.  1st Lt. Jonathan Brostrom was one of nine soldiers killed in Afghanistan on Sunday.   They were attacked at an outpost in the village of Wanat.

Brostrom grew up in Hawaii, and Thursday, his parents open up about their son.  Col. (Ret.) David and Mary Jo Brostrom are proud of their son's service to our country.   They hope his sacrifice helps bring additional support to the men and women still fighting in the Middle East.

He was a son, a father, a brother and a friend.  Jonathan Brostrom grew up in Aiea in a tight-knit family.

"He loved to play jokes, and scare me as I'm coming up the stairs," said Mary Jo Brostrom, his mother. "That was his personality. He loved to laugh. He had a wonderful smile."

Brostrom graduated from Damien High School and followed in his dad's footsteps.  He joined ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) while an undergraduate student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Upon graduation, Brostrom was commissioned as an second lieutenant in the Infantry.  His father performed the honors.

"To me that was a very, very proud moment watching my son going into the Army and the excitement that he had in his face," said Col. Brostrom.

That excitement turned to determination when Brostrom was deployed to Afghanistan while assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based out of Vicenza, Italy.

Brostrom and his soldiers faced an uphill battle.

"They knew they were going to be probed or attacked, but they didn't know it was going to be at such a magnitude," said Col. Brostrom.

The enemy attacked their outpost in Wanat on Sunday, as the soldiers were in the process of moving their base camp 20 km.  Nine people, including Brostrom, died.

"My son experienced in his short two years in the army more than I ever experienced in my 30 years," said Col. Brostrom.

"It really saddens me and I'm angry that I have to bury him because I think it's the most devastating thing any parent has to go through is to bury her child," said Mrs. Brostrom.

As that anger softens, it gives way to grief and nostalgia.

"As we walk through this house and i look at his things and pictures, I do feel his presence," said Mrs. Brostrom. "And there are days when we're not doing so well, and I feel like he's looking down and saying, 'You can do it. You can do it.'"

Col. Brostrom said his son cared deeply for his soldiers, who are still carrying on a dangerous mission with limited resources.

"So hopefully Jonathan's death and the others that gave their lives for their country, change some of the things we're doing in Afghanistan," he said.

Brostrom lives on through his six-year-old son Jase, who lives in Utah.

"His son will never forget Jonathan as long as he lives and he will always have a very fond place for his father," said Col. Brostrom.  "And I think that Jonathan will guide him where he is right now up in heaven."

The family is grateful for the outpouring of support from the community.  They're finalizing details of their son's services tentatively scheduled for July 24.