52, of Norwich, Vt.; assigned to the 15th Civil Support Team, Vermont Army National Guard, South Burlington, Vt.; killed March 28, 2006 as a result of enemy mortar and small arms attacks during combat operations in Lashkagar, Afghanistan.
We honor his service and his life on Memorial Day and always.
A soldier and medic with the Vermont Army National Guard was killed in Afghanistan early Wednesday in a fierce firefight with Taliban insurgents.
Sgt. 1st Class John Thomas Stone, 52, of Tunbridge was shot several times at about 1 a.m. local time when dozens of enemy fighters attacked a small, remote base in southern Afghanistan, west of Kandahar. The longtime infantryman and medic was backing up the Afghan army soldiers he and other Vermont, U.S. and Canadian forces were responsible for training.
Stone died at the scene after the battle, a rare outburst from Taliban and possibly al-Qaida combatants that was a violent end to a quiet winter, Guard commander Maj. Gen. Martha Rainville said in a late Wednesday news conference at Camp Johnson, the Guard's Colchester headquarters.
The sergeant -- known as Tom, Doc and Stoney by his fellow service members -- was serving his third tour in Afghanistan with the Guard, Rainville said. He was one of three dozen Vermonters in the country.
Commanders and soldiers remembered Stone as a well-respected, compassionate role model who dedicated himself to caring for his military colleagues and the Afghan people.
"He felt he was making a difference," Rainville said. "He cared a lot about others in this world."
...His three tours kept Stone in Afghanistan for much of the past three years; he was in Vermont only from September 2004 through March 2005. Stone returned to Afghanistan in July with 35 senior and noncommissioned officers for another yearlong mission.
Capt. Jeff Roosevelt served with Stone on his second tour, in 2004.
"He was all about taking care of the soldiers around him," Roosevelt said. "That's why he went on the three deployments: to take care of the soldiers who were his brothers."
Stone grew up in Pomfret and enlisted in the Army after graduating from Woodstock Union High School in 1971. Stone joined the Vermont Guard in 1982 and has worked full-time there since 2000, Rainville said. The sergeant also had served in the Army's elite special forces, Roosevelt said.
In Afghanistan, Stone set up public medical clinics near forward operating bases. He treated people with leg infections that could have worsened and required amputation without intervention; provided antibiotics; even helped people suffering from colds, Roosevelt said. Like any "doc," Stone handed out lollipops to children, the captain said.
Stone's actions saved hundreds of Afghan lives, Roosevelt said.
Retired Guard member John Jacob remembered Stone as a man devoted to assisting others. It was a trait Jacob recognized in 1985, when he met Stone through the Army Guard. Stone was one of Jacob's first Guard bosses; the two worked together for about a decade.
"Of all the guys I knew who were killed over there, this is breaking me up the worst," said Jacob, who served with Stone in Afghanistan in 2003, the Vermont Guard's first tour there. "I've known him the longest."
Before leaving for his third tour, Stone and Loving bought the property on which they had lived for several years, said Wendy McCullough, the town clerk in Tunbridge, population 1,330.
"Just a real nice man, a very nice couple," McCullough said. Sudden firefight
Stone was wearing a helmet, body armor and likely had night-vision goggles when the militants launched their attack, which included mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades and firearms, Rainville said.
Afghan army soldiers and forces from the United States and Canada defended the forward operating base. Stone, relying on his infantry background, crouched in a sandbagged post and returned fire before he was shot and killed, Rainville said.
From an AP article by Wilson Ring
Sgt. 1st Class Stone, 52, was killed by small arms fire in Afghanistan Tuesday afternoon, Vermont time, while he was helping Afghan soldiers repel an attack on their forward operating base in the southern part of the country.
“He was the best friend anyone could have, anybody,” Morgan said. “I know when he was shot he was helping others. That’s all he did. He never cared about financial gain. He did it out of love for humanity.”
Over the years Stone served in the regular Army, the reserves and the Vermont National Guard. Between 1992 and 2000 he walked around the world, literally, 22,000 miles through 29 countries.
Stone was on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Vermont National Guard when he was killed.
Guard officials and Stone’s friends remember a man who dedicated himself to others. During his earlier Afghan tours, Stone, a trained medic, set up a clinic for Afghan civilians in a shipping container. It served thousands of people.
It was in a similarly foreign land that Stone lost his brother.
On April 6, 1970, Dana Stone was on assignment for CBS News and Flynn for Time Magazine. They had ridden into the Cambodian countryside on motorbikes when they were captured by communist guerrillas. They were never heard from again.
At the end of the Vietnam War American officials pressed the North Vietnamese for an accounting of Dana Stone, Flynn, and a number of other missing journalists. No answer was ever forthcoming.
Dana Stone’s widow, Louise, who died in 2000, was told her husband and Flynn were probably tortured to death.
Tom Stone’s cousin Sally Britton told the Vermont Standard newspaper from Woodstock in 1997 that her cousin’s adventurous spirit was in his blood.
“I remember when we were kids, Dana would tell us stories of his adventures and Tom would just sit there, wide-eyed, taking in every word,” Britton said.
Laurie Schultz Heim, a staffer for Sen. James Jeffords, said she worked with Tom Stone as he tried to get answers about what happened to his brother. Stone told Jeffords’ staff that his family, and especially his mother, needed closure.
In 1987, Jeffords, then Vermont’s lone representative in the U.S. House, read a statement about Dana Stone on the floor of Congress.
“He drifted in and out of our radar screen, always with an unusual and poignant sense about him,” said Schultz Heim, who communicated with Stone occasionally as he walked around the world.
“Not only did he do this trip in part searching for his brother, I think he was always searching for what he wanted to do. Clearly he was definitely looking for meaning in life,” she said.
“He was a man’s man,” Morgan said. “If he could have written he would have been an Ernest Hemingway.”
Stone never married but he left a life partner, Rose Loving of Tunbridge, and a sister in Florida.
Vermont Administration Secretary Michael Smith graduated from high school with Stone and Morgan. Smith joined the Navy after high school and went on to become a Navy Seal commando. Smith said he practiced for his Navy swimming test in the Stones’ family pond in Pomfret.
“He was an individual, even though he was military. His motivation was always to help people in need, particularly kids,” said Smith. “I used to sit back and say he had it right. He had that sense of the world that ‘I need to help.’ He was an adventurer and he sought people out and tried to help them.”
Read more about "Stoney" at the Mudville Gazette