Jacob A Gassen

PFC Jacob A. Gassen, 21, of Beaver Dam, died Monday, Nov. 29, 2010, while serving his country in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Visitation for Jacob will be at the Murray Funeral Home in Beaver Dam on Wednesday from 3 to 8 p.m. and at Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 950 Washington St., in Horicon, on Thursday at 1 p.m. The Very Reverend Michael Wild will officiate.

Jacob was born on Nov. 19, 1989, in LaCrosse, Wis., the son of Gregory and Barbara (Luck) Gassen. He attended elementary school at St. Jerome’s Catholic School in Columbus. He then attended Beaver Dam Middle School and Beaver Dam High School, graduating in 2008. While in high school, Jake was active in the BDHS Orchestra, the golf team, and Academic Decathlon; he was also involved in youth soccer, YMCA swim team and was a life guard at the Columbus Aquatic Center and the YMCA of Dodge County. After high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh for a year. In September 2009, Jake joined the U.S. Army; his basic training was at Fort Benning, Ga., and his AIT/Medic Training was at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. After training, Jake was assigned to HHT, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Jake is survived by his parents Gregory and Barbara Gassen of Beaver Dam; two brothers Christopher and Jesse Gassen of Beaver Dam; his maternal grandmother Phyllis Luck of Beaver Dam; an aunt and two uncles M. John (Leiko) Gassen of Neillsville, Valerie (Bill) Dahlke of Granton, and Dan (Lorrie) Luck of Randolph; his cousins Patrick and Sean Luck, Christine and Dawn Dahlke, Mayumi (Nathan) Aaberg, Angela Gassen and Jim (Christie) Gassen. He is further survived by his birth mother Lisa Genardo; her children Samantha, Sara, Emily, Steven, and Jennifer; Jacob’s grandfather Joe Genardo; and more friends than there are stars in the sky.

Jake was preceded in death by his infant brother, Thomas Gassen; his maternal grandfather Merlin Luck; and his paternal grandparents Mathias “Matt” and Virginia Gassen.

Memorials may be made in Jacob Gassen’s name to YMCA of Dodge County, 220 Corporate Drive, Beaver Dam, WI 53916; or the Jacob Gassen Memorial – Class of 2008, c/o Beaver Dam High School, 500 Gould St., Beaver Dam, WI 53916.

Murray Funeral Home, 131 Maple Ave., Beaver Dam, is caring for the family. To leave online condolences, for directions and other information, visit www.MurrayFH.com.

HORICON – Two candles were lit on the advent wreath inside Sacred Heart Church as Greg, Barb, Chris and Jesse Gassen stood with their arms around each other in front of the open casket for Pfc. Jacob Gassen.

Barb bent and kissed her son goodbye, then Chris and Jesse closed the casket over their brother and the family stepped back as the U.S. Flag was carefully folded by six white-gloved members of the United States Army.

Nearby stood Jake’s friend, U.S. Marine Mike Richardson, who was near the end of his duty as the personal escort of Jacob Gassen’s remains.

The church was filled with family and friends mourning the loss of Gassen, a 2008 Beaver Dam High School graduate. Outside, hundreds of Dodge County citizens prepared to stand with flags and signs along the 25-mile funeral procession route.

Gassen, a U.S. Army medic, was killed Nov. 29 in Afghanistan with five other soldiers, when a border policeman turned his gun on his American trainers as the group headed to shooting practice.

His body returned to Beaver Dam Monday and Wednesday the family spent more than five hours at a visitation. Mourners at the church Thursday included Wisconsin First Lady Jessica Doyle, State Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and State Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald as well as city of Beaver Dam and Dodge County officials.

It also included uniformed members of the U.S. military.

Wisconsin National Guard Judge Advocate Col. Julio Barron spoke and said, “Private First Class Gassen was a hero in every sense of the word.”

A Gospel passage usually read at Easter was part of the service and the Rev. Michael Wild of Annunciation Church in Fox Lake said Jake had been baptized on Easter Day, 1993. He said Gassen understood that life is precious and needs to be protected.

“Jacob had a vision,” Wild said. “Like Jesus, he wanted to spend his life healing others.”

The service included Beaver Dam High School Orchestra members playing ‘Jesus, joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach. Gassen had been a part of the orchestra while a student.

The funeral procession route from Horicon to Randolph was lined with hundreds of citizens, most waving flags and some holding signs that read “Thank you Jake.” Children and adults stood in wind-whipped snow and military veterans in uniform saluted as the procession moved through downtown Beaver Dam and Fox Lake to the Randolph Cemetery.

Military honors at the cemetery included presentation of the flag draped over Jacob’s casket to his mother, a gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”

Members of the group Patriot Guard Riders ringed the burial area holding U.S. Flags and remained at attention as mourners drove slowly out of the cemetery in the falling snow.

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HORICON, Wis. (AP) — A U.S. Army medic from Wisconsin is being remembered for wanting to spend his life healing others.

Pfc. Jacob Gassen of Beaver Dam was eulogized Thursday at a church filled with family and friends.

Gassen had just turned 21 and was serving as a medic in his first tour of duty. He was killed Nov. 29 in Afghanistan with five other U.S. soldiers when a border policeman turned his gun on his American trainers.

The Rev. Michael Wild says Gassen “had a vision” and “Like Jesus, he wanted to spend his life healing others.”

The Beaver Dam Daily Citizen reports the funeral procession was lined with hundreds of people, most waving flags and some holding signs that read “Thank you, Jake.”

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Beaver Dam
Age: 21
Incident Location: Nangarhar province, Afghanistan
Branch: Army
Rank: Pfc.
Unit: 1st Squadron, 61st Calvary Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne (Air Assault)
Units Base: Fort Campbell, Kentucky