ROCKFORD, Iowa - Almost 7 years after he was killed in action, the community of Rockford is honoring Jon Tumilson, known as J.T. by his friends and family, with a memorial motorcycle ride. Tumilson loved to ride motorcycle himself, his friend Alan Christenson tells KIMT.
In 2011, Tumilson was killed in a helicopter mission known as Extortion 17, along with another 30 Americans and 1 service dog.
Christenson organized the event 'Remembering J.T. Tumilson's Last Ride.' "Jon's the type of person where if you would have told him that day when he stepped foot on that helicopter, that if you get on that helicopter, you're going to die, he would have said, 'so be it,'" says Christenson, reminiscing his friend.
"I just feel it's another way to keep his memory alive," explains Jon's sister, Kristie Vieira, of the memorial ride. "Once his name's not mentioned anymore, that's when he truly dies."
Proceeds from the event will benefit Operation 98: Giving wooden batallion flags and battlefield crosses to every family of the 98 Iowans killed-in-action since 9/11.
Friends and family tell KIMT Jon always dreamed of serving his country, and they will always remember his big heart.
"He would have done anything for anybody and he was bigger than life and he was my friend," says Christenson.
"It was his lifelong dream to do what he did so I'm so proud of him," adds Vieira.