Jonathan D Porto
March 14, 2010
Killed while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Cpl. Jonathan Daniel Porto, USMC, 26, of St. Petersburg, Fla., was killed in action in Afghanistan on March 14, 2010. A native of St. Petersburg, Fla., he graduated from Timberlane High School in New Hampshire. Family was very important to Jonathan. He enjoyed life and laughter. In March 2008, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps where he found his purpose, passion and direction in life. He was Guide and an honor grad from Parris Island and received two meritorious promotions. He loved being a Marine!
He is survived by his wife, Rachel; his two month old daughter Ariana; his mother, Rachel Bernaby and stepfather Brian Bernaby; his father, Steven Porto; his maternal grandfather, Donald Gregoire; his paternal grandmother, Charlotte Porto; his mother and father in law, Evelyn and Robert Jewell; his siblings, Rebekah Roberts, Stephanie Yarbrough, Sonya Schnieder, Dominic Porto, Benjamin Porto, Emilie Lobnitz and Kristen Porto; and half brothers, Christopher Porto and Joshua Porto; and many nieces and nephews.
Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Anderson-McQueen Family Tribute Center, 2201 Dr. M.L. King St. N., St. Petersburg, FL. A graveside funeral service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 24, 2010, at Bay Pines National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, family prefers memorial donations to a trust fund for his daughter at APGFCU, Attn: Collean McKinney for the account of Ariana Ralyn Porto, P.O. Box 1176, Aberdeen, MD 21001.
Published in Jacksonville Daily News from Mar. 23 to Mar. 26, 2010
|From The Tampa Bay Times tampabay.com 03/16/10:
St. Petersburg Marine, 26, dies in Afghanistan
By Katie Sanders and Rita Farlow, Times Staff Writers
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 9:18am
Marine Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto and his wife, Rachel, were expecting a baby when he was deployed to Afghanistan in December.
Ariana Ralyn Porto was born two months ago, but Porto, 26, of St. Petersburg never got to meet her.
He was killed in an accident Sunday in Helmand province, Defense Department officials said.
They declined to provide details on the accident, citing privacy rules, but his uncle said family members were told that he died when his vehicle flipped and he was pinned in the wreckage.
His body arrived Tuesday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
"It's a tragedy all the way around," said his uncle, Craig Gregoire.
Porto joined the Marines in March 2008 and was promoted to corporal Dec. 1, said Lt. Timothy Irish. He had received several awards for his service.
He was deployed to Afghanistan, where he served as a small-arms repair technician for the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan.
Porto is survived by his wife, who is 23, and their 2-month-old daughter. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. His mother, Rachel Bernaby, and stepfather, Brian, were not at their St. Petersburg home on 46th Avenue N Tuesday afternoon.
An American flag and a red Marine Corps flag were at half-staff outside their front door.
Porto was born in St. Petersburg and has seven brothers and sisters, said Gregoire.
Porto graduated from Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow, N.H., in 2002, according to associate principal John Leary. He remembered Porto as a hands-on learner who was a good kid.
Finding out Porto ended up with the Marine Corps "did not surprise me," he said.
Gregoire of Hendersonville, N.C., said he thought his nephew "found a sense of purpose" in the Marine Corps.
"Whenever I saw him at a family gathering, he gave hugs freely, smiled widely and often, and pretty much made me feel cheerful and welcomed," said Porto's aunt, Renae Gregoire.
Staff writers Kim Wilmath and Kameel Stanley and researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.
|From The Tampa Bay Times tampabay.com 03/22/10:
A lost Marine's life will not be forgotten, widow vows
Katie Sanders, PunditFact Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2010 1:16pm
They stood along the route, saluting and waving American flags as the hearse carrying Marine Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto made its way to a St. Petersburg funeral home.
"I'm so grateful for what he did,'' said a teary Barbara Welch, 47, of St. Petersburg. "How do you say thank you for something like that?''
Porto, 26, a small-arms technician, died in a vehicle crash March 14 in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, relatives said.
Mourners along the route from MacDill Air Force Base to Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home could not have known that Porto's 2-month-old daughter coos at the sound of his voice. Or that he didn't need a diamond ring to win over his young bride.
They could not have known about the ashes.
• • •
Porto fell in love with the Marines when he was 24. He actually enjoyed the basic training at grueling Parris Island in South Carolina.
"I love it (this place)," he wrote to his mother, Rachel Bernaby of St. Petersburg.
But the real love of Porto's life started in the summer of 2008. He was training at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Porto and a 21-year-old woman named Rachel Jewell shared laughs one night over bowling, cigarettes and a game of pool.
He was supposed to be the billiards instructor, but she creamed him.
They had a fairy tale relationship — a whirlwind, said her mother, Evelyn Jewell of Aberdeen.
Rachel let Porto kiss her that first night.
"My knees went weak," she said.
• • •
Porto proposed twice. She said yes both times.
The first time came Nov. 1, the day Porto flew to Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a new assignment. It happened outside a bar as they waited for his flight.
He didn't have a ring, but Porto got down on one knee and removed the smaller chain from his dog tag, wrapping it around her finger.
"You can ask any of my friends," she said. "I showed it off like it was a freaking 2-carat diamond platinum piece of work."
The real ring came a few weeks later, on Thanksgiving. He flew down from Camp Lejeune and surprised her at her family's Disney World cabin. This time, he asked the question in front of her family and friends.
Their wedding was May 2, not even a year from their first date.
Some family and friends were skeptical of the fast pace. That changed when they saw how happy he made her.
She bought him a shiny titanium carbide ring from Walmart. He wanted one that wouldn't break as he worked on machinery overseas.
It didn't. She keeps it around her neck now to remember him.
"I let it get warm from being against my chest," she said, "and then I pull it out, and it's like he's been wearing it."
• • •
The couple made it known they would be making a baby on their honeymoon. They knew deployment was imminent, said Jewell, Rachel's mother.
"He told me, 'Mom, I want to have a legacy.' " Bernaby said. " 'Just in case.' "
Against the advice of both mothers, the newlyweds kept their promise.
"Now," Jewell said, "both mothers are so grateful that they did."
Ariana Ralyn Porto was born Jan. 15. The middle name was her father's creation, a hybrid of her grandmothers' names.
Porto cheered his wife through delivery via a fuzzy phone call from Afghanistan, she said.
"He started yelling, 'Push, baby, push, push,' and got disconnected again," Jewell said.
When Ariana made her screaming entrance into the world, the delivery room could hear him crying.
Rachel Porto, 23, isn't like mothers who hope their children will adopt their features. Ariana already has her daddy's full lips, and Rachel hopes more traits will emerge as Ariana grows up.
"I pray," she said, "that she continues to look like him."
• • •
Ariana will know her father, Rachel vows.
Before he left for Afghanistan, the couple recorded Porto as he read from a few children's books. Ariana, usually a quiet baby, lights up and coos when she hears her dad recite If You Give a Cat a Cupcake.
The videos were meant to help Ariana recognize her father's voice. Now, after his death in an accident the Defense Department has not detailed, the videos are among the only mementos of her father.
"She will know her daddy," Porto said. "I will make it a point on myself, with the videos, the stories, the pictures, everything I have. I have been assured by his Marine friends, by my family, his family, that she will know him. She will know how amazing he is."
And she will know one day that her mother and father will be reunited, Rachel says.
The couple's ashes will be mixed and put to sea.
For Ariana's future
The family has set up a trust fund for Ariana Ralyn Porto. In lieu of flowers, donations can be mailed to:
Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union
Attn: Collean McKinney for the account of Ariana Ralyn Porto
P.O. Box 1176, Aberdeen, MD 21001
|Corporal had a heart of gold
The Associated Press
When Jonathan Porto proposed to his wife, he didn’t have a ring to give her. So he improvised.
The Marine took the small chain from his dog tag and wrapped it around Rachel’s finger.
“I showed it off like it was a freaking 2-carat diamond platinum piece of work,” she said. Rachel Porto eventually got a real ring a few weeks later, when Porto surprised her at her family’s cabin at Walt Disney World.
It wasn’t long after their marriage that the couple had another special gift: their daughter, Ariana, born Jan. 15. But Porto never met his daughter in person, despite being in the delivery room via a fuzzy phone connection.
Porto, 26, of Largo, Fla., died in a vehicle crash March 14 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, his family said. He was assigned to Camp Lejeune and graduated from Timberlane High School in New Hampshire.
Porto’s sister, Sonya, said her brother was the most fun of her numerous siblings.
“He had a heart of gold, and he really wanted to make sure everyone was OK,” she said.
Porto enlisted in 2008 — in part because he had trouble finding a job in the poor economy, said his father, Steve Porto. And he loved it, telling his mother that he even enjoyed the grueling basic training he went through at Parris Island.
Cpl. Jonathan D. Porto
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