Ah, Jonn . . . We Hardly Knew Ye

| July 27, 2018

10:45PM EDT

I’ve been on the road or otherwise tied up most of the day. So this article is, unfortunately, a bit late.

I got the news of Jonn’s passing this morning. I nearly missed it; it was only happenstance that I saw Dave Hardin’s reply to a comment telling me I needed to check my email. (Many thanks, Dave; I owe you one.)

The news came as somewhat of a shock. Jonn seemed to be doing well when I visited him last month. But none of us ever know how much time the Almighty has allotted us – or our friends.

TSO’s article/eulogy for Jonn of earlier today says most things that need to be said. His article is eloquent, heartfelt, and excellent. It’s a fitting goodbye for Jonn.

Still, I’d like to add my own small bit.

I didn’t know Jonn as well as TSO, and I won’t pretend otherwise. Still, I think I knew him well enough to say the following:

– he loved his country, serving it for decades;

– he loved and took care of his family;

– he loved truth, and detested lies; and

– he was willing to stand by his convictions, come what may.

In short, Jonn was a man of honor – and of courage. Hell, seeing how he handled the nasty curve life threw him with ALS aptly proved the latter.

I’m proud to have known Jonn. And I’d have been honored to have served alongside him, in peace or in war.

I’m proud to have considered Jonn a friend. I’ll miss him.

Longtime TAH readers know of my liking for music, especially of that by the late Warren Zevon. I’m going to take the liberty of using one of Warren’s tunes as a final musical tribute. Jonn wouldn’t have asked for this – but I’ll do it on his behalf anyway.

Adios, mi amigo. Vaya con Dios.

Lo recordaremos.

Category: Blue Skies, Real Soldiers, We Remember

Comments (36)

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  1. Into The Light: Jonn Lilyea – The Laughing Wolf | July 28, 2018
  1. HMC Ret says:

    I feel something of great importance is now missing in my life. Yes, yes there is.

  2. RM3(SS) says:

    A fitting ballad for a great man. Enjoy every sandwich, none of us know how long we have.
    My great regret was not going to visit him when I was in DC last year. I somehow thought I had lots of time to do so and I’d go when we were back there next year.
    Good bye for now SFC Lilyea.

  3. ChipNASA says:

    Just my comment.
    Some Deserve it.
    Jonn did not.
    However, in his struggle, I can only question God’s plan.
    I am not anything but a pissant.
    I only hope I have made such am imprint.

    • Roh-Dog says:

      “[We] only hope [that we{ have made such am imprint.”
      When life throws a big ‘ol rubbery one my way I’m reminded of that saying, only the good die young.
      I like it because it leaves us with the choice to accept that; 1)only through one’s absence can the hole tell us just how great that person was or 2) we are sh*t and we can either a) live that label or b)strive to be better Men.
      I like to think it’s d)all the above.
      Regardless, strive… what is there to loose?

    • desert says:

      For those that have accepted Jesus and asked him into their life and save them…..there is NO fear of death, death is not to be despised because we know where we go after this life, it is to be anticipated and looked forward to. The Bible says “cry when they are born, rejoice when they die”…We can rejoice for Jonn and hope and pray he belonged to Jesus, because he would then be now in paradise, no pain, no sorrow, no enemies, just beauty, joy, and happiness!

  4. Garold says:

    Thank you for this tribute, Hondo. I’ve only been here for about two years and while I exchanged a couple of emails, I wish I could have known the man better.

    In my tribute I’d like to post a poem for my brothers-in-arms I wrote several years ago and though it was written from my experiences in the Colombian jungle, I feel moved to post it due to it be about missing those we love as fellow members of an organization that is unlike any other when it comes to comradery.

    Night Grunge

    Your mouth is moving but there are no words
    I say “relent, close your eyes, conform to the laws of life”
    Apparently you’d not paid your ransom in full
    And now you’ve hit the wall of sanity at full speed of light

    Tanked in the bowels of the muddled night grunge
    I leave you, my friend, and with much regret
    Traversing non-navigable roads, but try we did
    Under the umbra of our own soul’s silhouette

    There’re still too many pieces of the puzzle missing
    As a million tiny spiders crawl from their nest
    They inch their way across a webbed night sky
    Wading through excretion and body parts missed

    Shadowed malcontent uneasy phantoms
    Here continually passing through my bones
    Wicked twisting mistral hissing
    I’m drenched under a sweltering, melting moon

    So the barber came and claimed sanguine fluid
    That’s his job, you know, he must be paid his due
    There’s a sign on the ground, ‘this way up’
    We’d knocked it down, but I set it back up for you

    The dreamscape of various shades of gray
    Colorblind the distant wailing of mothers weep
    In the outskirts of hinterland eclipsed by dark moon
    Like you, my friend, now would be a good time to sleep

    … now would be a good time to sleep …

  5. The Other Whitey says:

    “ Jonn was a man of honor – and of courage.”

    I don’t believe there can be any higher praise of a man. I pray that I might earn similar words in my lifetime.

  6. Retired Devildog from MO. says:

    It is by Robert Louis Stevenson and titled:

    Under the wide and starry sky,
    Dig the grave and let me die.
    Glad did I live and gladly die,
    And I laid me down with a will

    This be the verse you grave for me:
    Here lies where he longed to be;
    Home is the sailor, home from sea,
    And the hunter home from the hill.

    I was a lurking Member of this web site having been a Band Member(1st and 3rd MAR DIV bands) in Nam

    Semper Fi
    Fair Winds and Following Seas.

  7. Lucky says:

    Great song.

  8. HMCS(FMF) ret says:

    Wonderful tribute to Jonn, Hondo.

  9. HMC Ret says:

    His truly was a life worth living. We all wish it can be said, upon our departure, that we made a difference. Some do. Some don’t. Jonn did.

  10. Toasty Coastie says:

    For Jonn….


    You’ve found your way home now…and we will miss you so very much.

  11. Dave Hardin says:

    I search for some quip to respond with … I got nuttin. Much respect brother.

  12. SFC Cheryl McElroy US ARMY (RET) aka GI Jane says:

    Good people always die too soon. I met Jonn when I was stationed in the D.C. area. He was a good Soldier and friend who tirelessly worked to expose fake military vermin. He always spoke his mind and stood for the principles he believed. He was always there when friends needed him. He;s missed already. See you on the other side, Jonn. RIP.

  13. AnotherPat says:

    Thank You, Hondo.

    As shared by others, Jonn always ended his emails with “Welcome Home”.

    A fitting Musical tribute to Jonn, our Warrior:

    “Welcome Home” by Michael W.Smith


  14. Sparks says:

    Thank you Hondo. Jonn will be truly missed.

  15. Mason says:

    One sad thing is that we never live to see our eulogies or the messages of loss or grief we leave those who we leave behind.

    Just a few weeks ago the website bill here came due and AW1Ed put out the word on Jonn’s behalf, because Jonn was too humble of a person to go around hat in hand himself, and the response was immediate and by all accounts overwhelming. So we can take heart that recently he saw just what an impact he was having on us all.

    • thebesig says:

      Originally posted by Mason:

      One sad thing is that we never live to see our eulogies or the messages of loss or grief we leave those who we leave behind.

      We will know these things. Jonn knows what has been said on this site. Our thoughts related to him are thoughts that he receives. Spirits communicate through telepathy and imagery. Also, after physical death, our souls have the free will to hang around and, if necessary, attend our own funeral.

  16. Skippy says:

    Fair winds
    Until we meet again

  17. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    Well done Hondo, beautiful and appro selection. My young son saw me sobbing a bit as I listened to this on the deck with my first cup of motivation this morn, he asked, “is that song for Jonn”?

    Kids are so fruggin’ smart.

    Thanks again Hondo.

    Sweet way to start the day.

  18. NHSparky says:

    Integrity and honor. To some they’re just words.

    To Jonn, they were a way of life. If only I could do half as well.

  19. Poetrooper says:

    I posted this on TSO’s tribute thread but it should be here with Hondo’s kind words as well:


    I was that which others did not want to be,
    I went where others fear to go,
    And did what others failed to do.
    I asked nothing from those who gave nothing,
    And reluctantly accepted the thought
    Of eternal loneliness should I fail.
    I have seen the face of terror,
    Felt the stinging cold of fear,
    And enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment’s fear.
    I have cried, pained and hoped,
    But most of all, I have lived times
    Others would say were best forgotten.
    At least some day, I will be able to say
    That I was proud of what I was, a soldier.

    George L. Skypeck, Reg™, Copyright © All rights reserved, used with permission of Mr. Skypeck
    Military Historical Artist
    I have previously obtained George’s permission to use his great poem and know he would be proud to have it posted in tribute to SFC Lilyea.


  20. Mike Kozlowski says:

    …I never got a chance to meet Jonn, but given the respect he had on this site, I wish to hell I had.

    True and sincere prayers for his family and friends.

  21. Duane says:

    I think the highest praise we can offer sometimes is the reflections of our memories of someone when they pass away. Seeing all of the comments here regarding Jonn, it shows that he made a huge impact in a lot of our lives – some small, some not so small, but an impact that we will remember him for.

  22. jarhead says:

    In spite of a few years of a rambling and warped mind, this best represents what I at least find myself thinking in the loss of Bro. Jonn. Our world at TAH will not come to an end, but it will indeed take some time to get back on a path we all knew and loved so much.

  23. 26Limabeans says:

    Tough weekend reading the pinned thread and this one as well. Names you don’t see often, standing up to salute with their comments.

    I found this place after decades of being unable to do much about stolen valor and the bullshit heaped upon real veterans.
    It did not take long to realize Jonn was serious about the subject and I bacame a fan as well as a yearly $ donor.

    Under the “contact us” tab there is a caution about sending money orders. I freaked when I read it because I realized it was me. I told Jonn to return them and I would make good on them. He said that the people at the bank knew him and they got cashed but the warning was to others who might do that.
    True to form…He didn’t take it down. Nothing ever gets taken down here and I guess that is the lesson he left behind.

    Rest in peace Brother.

  24. DougOut says:

    They shall not grow old, as we that are left will grow old.
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We shall remember them.

    -Laurence Binyon
    Fourth stanza from Ode to Remembrance or “For the Fallen,” 1914.

  25. IDC SARC says:

    RIP Soldier

  26. Green Thumb says:

    Hail O’ Hail the Infantry!