Staff Sgt. John DeLong was looking forward to his deployment next month to Afghanistan, the second tour of duty in a combat zone for the Gainesville native, when tragedy struck last week a few miles from his base at Fort Carson, Colorado.
“He was proud to go, proud to serve,” said DeLong’s mother, Judy DeLong of Gainesville. “He was Army through and through.”
John DeLong, 28, was killed when he lost control of his car Sunday night and wrecked near Colorado Springs, Colo.
“It was a freak accident,” his mother said. “If we expected him to be hurt it would be while he was serving overseas, certainly not in a car accident.”
DeLong will receive full military honors next week in Gainesville.
Memorial services are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the chapel of the First Baptist Church of Gainesville.
DeLong, a graduate of Gainesville city schools, was described by his mother as a “well-rounded individual, with friends from many walks of life.”
He completed basic training in 2005 and served in Iraq from August 2006 to November 2007. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division and B Company 4th Combat Support Battalion.
“When he went to Iraq, he was more than willing to go protect our freedoms and serve the American people,” Judy DeLong said.
During his time in the military, DeLong received a number of commendations, including the Bronze Star medal.
“John was really good at what he did and he really liked the Army,” his mother said. “He was planning on making a career out of it.”
Judy DeLong said her family appreciates the condolences and support shown by the Gainesville community since her son’s death.
“Our family feels so fortunate to live in such a wonderful and caring community,” she said.