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Old 01-27-2005, 08:18 AM
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Navy Corpsman John Daniel House (Iraq)

Simi sailor dies in Iraq crash
John House leaves wife, newborn son

By Marjorie Hernandez, mhernandez@ VenturaCountyStar.com
January 27, 2005

In the pages of letters he sent home from Iraqi battlegrounds, Navy medic John Daniel House wrote about the camaraderie and responsibility he felt for his fellow soldiers.

"In one of the letters, he wrote, 'I know all of them ... even in the dark, by their mannerisms,' " House's mother, Susan House of Simi Valley, read as she choked back tears. " 'I don't know how I am going to deal with losing any of them. It is my job to take care of them and keep them safe.' "

House, 28, a graduate of Simi Valley High School, died with the Marines he vowed to protect in a helicopter crash in Iraq early Wednesday morning. The crash also claimed the lives of 30 Marines.

House, 28, was the only Navy sailor on board the CH-53E Super Stallion when it crashed, military officials said.

The plane was carrying personnel from the 1st Marine Division on a security mission in support of Sunday's election when it went down about 1:20 a.m. near the town of Rutbah, about 220 miles west of Baghdad, military officials said.

The crash occurred during severe weather, but its cause was still under investigation, said Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command.

House, who was in the 1st Battalion Third Marine Division, was scheduled to return Feb. 20 to Hawaii, where he was stationed at Pearl Harbor, family members said.

House had been stationed at Pearl Harbor for about a year, where he lived with his wife, Melanie, who gave birth to their son, James Cash, on Christmas Eve.

Although the rest of his battalion returned home in July, House remained in Iraq because more Navy medics were needed, family members said.

This was House's second deployment to Iraq.

House wanted to join the Marines after he graduated from Moorpark High in 1994, but decided to delay those plans when he met Melanie. The couple married Sept. 14, 2001.

House decided to enlist in the Navy in 1998. He was not planning to re-enlist when his contract was to have expired in March 2006, Susan said.

Instead, House planned to spend more time with Melanie and their son, family members said.

Susan and her husband, Ventura County Sheriff's Deputy Larry House, were aware of the crash from television news reports Wednesday morning, not knowing that the lone Navy corpsman killed in the incident was their son.

Susan followed news reports, using the Internet at work, and her heart dropped when she heard that one of the 31 killed was a Navy corpsman.

She immediately called Melanie in Hawaii.

"I called my daughter-in-law to ask about the baby so I wouldn't alarm her," Susan said. "But as soon as she picked up the phone, she started crying. That's how I found out."

It was about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when Larry heard the devastating news. A bailiff in Ventura County Superior Court, he immediately left work to be with his family.

Larry and Susan spoke with their son several times by phone while they were in Hawaii less than a week ago to visit Melanie and their first grandson.

Larry said his son was able to hear the newborn's first cries from the hospital room Christmas Eve over a satellite phone. He also had the opportunity to get a first glimpse of his son through a video connection a few days later.

Susan and Larry and their two other children, James and Elizabeth, plan to fly to Hawaii today to be with Melanie and the baby. The services in Hawaii and Simi Valley have not been planned yet.
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