Across the state, flags flew at half-staff by order of the governor to honor a Highlands Ranch man who died last week while serving in the National Guard in Afghanistan and was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver on Friday. Sgt. Jonnie Stiles, 38, was killed on Nov. 13 when a bomb exploded near his vehicle during a patrol in Jalalabad.
Stiles grew up in Colorado and later returned to the state after spending most of his adult life in the Marines and then the Army. He joined a Colorado National Guard unit scheduled to deploy to Iraq but, after that unit’s plans changed, he moved to a Louisiana unit set to deploy to Afghanistan, his father, Lynn Stiles, told a Dayton, Ohio, newspaper.
Awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star after his death, Stiles earned a first Bronze Star last month when he crawled through heavy fire to rescue two soldiers trapped in a transport vehicle that had been bombed. Stiles’ vocal chord and lungs were injured in the blast but he refused medical leave and returned to service soon afterward, his father said.
Stiles was scheduled to return home in February. His eighth wedding anniversary would have been Tuesday.
It’s the 12th time Gov. Bill Ritter has ordered flags lowered in Colorado this year. In addition to seven occasions honoring fallen servicemen, Ritter has issued the order to commemorate Sept. 11, Law Enforcement Memorial Day, and Colorado firefighters killed on duty. The deaths of former Senate President Ray Powers and Adams County Prosecutor Sean May were also honored by flying the U.S. and Colorado flags at half-staff at all public buildings in the state. Check the state’s flag status here.