19 October 2012|
Jonathan Stamper, a chemistry and physics teacher at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School has been busy the past two years, not only as a teacher but also as a sergeant in the Army Reserve. During the 2010 to 2012 year span, Stamper has been called and recruited to various tours in Afghanistan. This will be his second time leaving the safety of his classroom to go into the deadly war zone.
Stamper is a member of the Civil Affairs for the U.S. His job is to talk to Afghani farmers and sheep herders in order to assess the effectiveness of the U.S. economy. Although his job is not a combatant, and more of a representative, Stamper still experiences the violence and havoc that war brings, firsthand.
Once he saw a soldier run ahead of the platoon, not aware of the IEDs surrounding the area. The next sound they heard was a loud explosion, then silence. Another time he had to carry a bloody Afghan soldier, who was about to become a double-amputee, to the helicopter in the middle of the desert. Yet, his friendly, open, and easy going personality does not show the reserved nature of a normal soldier.
Stamper, now 47, joined the military at age 41. He was motivated in some measure, by the story of the NFL player, Pat Tillman, who rejected a multimillion contract with the Cardinals to join the military. Tillman was in the mountains of Afghanistan serving his country when he was killed.
However, it was the conversation he had with a student that made him enlist in 2006. The young man had already finished boot camp and wore his uniform to school one day. He came up to Stamper and informed him that they raised the enlistment age to 42. And on that very day, Stamper went to the recruiting offices to apply.
Stamper took his job very seriously and was quick to learn the code of conduct of the land. When inspecting, he checked every nook and cranny, making sure he did his job right. He applies the same idea to his class and teaching job at Peninsula. His colleagues and even his boss, Mitzi Cress-who is the principal of PVPHS, recognize how hard he works. "He's a perfectionist," Cress said. "You just know darn well that when he was over there in Iraq that he did everything right. I bet when he did reports they were A-plus."-Rob Kuznia, dailybreeze.com