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John 'Jack' Turner Jr.: A life lived in service

March 15, 2018 Digital Media Exclusive

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John “Jack” Turner Jr.

Butler County lost a native son and a hero last week.

John “Jack” Turner Jr., a Butler native and 2001 Knoch High School graduate, died March 8 at UPMC Mercy Hospital of cardiac arrest. He was 35.

Taking advantage of the delayed entry enlistment, Turner joined the U.S. Air Force in 2002.

Turner's mother, Cheryl Turner, said her son was drawn to the Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) program.

“He had to go through rigorous psychological and physical tests and training to get into the program,” she said. “He always thought it was right up his alley.”

Deployed three times to Iraq, Jack Turner cleared more than 400 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

“He was clearing the way for the trucks carrying their supplies to other bases. He was making it safe for them,” Cheryl Turner said. “He was saving lives.”

Cheryl Turner said her son was recognized for his excellence in his field. During his service, Jack was asked to protect former President George W. Bush.

“We all were very proud of that,” Cheryl Turner said. “He thought that was a pretty big deal to be chosen to do that.”

Jack Turner received many commendations during his duty, including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

In his third deployment, March 21, 2008, Jack Turner was called to a site where a large bomb had exploded. He was ordered to clear the area of other devices. The crater's walls were too steep, so Turner needed to climb down himself.

“As he was climbing out of the crater, he stepped and heard something click,” he said.

Cheryl Turner said the explosion left her son with injuries that stayed with him the rest of his life.

“Until he passed away, he was still pulling shrapnel out of his body,” she said.

To learn more about Jack Turner, read Sunday's Butler Eagle.

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