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Originally published Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Mom of fallen soldier says military service was "his calling"

After back-to-back tours of duty in Iraq, Cpl. Jason M. Bogar was deployed to Afghanistan and harbored thoughts of soon joining U.S. Special Forces, said his mother, Carlene Cross, a Seattle-area author and former pastor's wife. Bogar died Sunday during an attack on a remote outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

Seattle Times staff reporter

After back-to-back tours of duty in Iraq, Cpl. Jason M. Bogar was deployed to Afghanistan and harbored thoughts of soon joining U.S. Special Forces, said his mother, Carlene Cross, a Seattle-area author.

"He served because he really felt like he was doing service to his country. It was his calling," she said.

But a mother is never prepared for a dreaded visit from the military.

Cross was notified on Sunday that her only son, the youngest of her three children, was among nine U.S. soldiers who died that day during an attack on a remote American outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

According to the Department of Defense, Bogar, 25, died after the outpost was attacked by militants with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503d Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy.

"He was an amazing, compassionate young man," said his mother.

Bogar, a minister's son who grew up in the Seattle and Everett areas and attended Bothell High School before earning his high-school degree in a Job Corps program in Mount Vernon, had spent his adult life in the military. He was 17 when he enlisted in the Washington National Guard.

After a two-year tour of duty in Baghdad, he transferred to the Army to sign up for two more years in Iraq. He had been stationed at Fort Lewis for four years before being based in Italy.

Dean Bogar, the slain soldier's grandfather, described his grandson as a "good kid."

"He was a good boy and he was willing to lay down his life for his country and his fellow soldiers," said Dean Bogar, of Enumclaw. "He gave his life to Christ before he left on this last deployment."

Jason Bogar played soccer and baseball while growing up.

"I think he channeled all that energy into the military when he went," said his mother. She said he had talked of joining the Special Forces for another tour of duty. He also had talked of attending art school. "He talked of wanting to be an international correspondent and take pictures of places, all over the world," she said.

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Bogar's father, the Rev. Michael Bogar, is minister of the Spiritual Enrichment Center of West Sound on Bainbridge Island.

Sunday's attack by some 200 militants was the deadliest for the U.S. military in Afghanistan in three years. Insurgents fought their way into the newly established base, wounding an additional 15 Americans and suffering heavy casualties of their own before the defenders and warplanes could drive them back, said the Department of Defense.

The assault underscored how Islamic militants appear to be gaining strength nearly eight years after the ouster of the Taliban, and the difficulties facing foreign and Afghan forces trying to defeat them.

NATO said the post, which lies amid precipitous mountains close to the Pakistan border, has been vacated, but insisted that international and Afghan troops will "retain a strong presence in that area with patrolling and other means."

"We are committed, now more than ever, to establishing a secure environment that will allow even greater opportunities for development and a stronger Afghan governmental influence," NATO spokesman Capt. Mike Finney said.

Omar Sami, spokesman for the Nuristan provincial governor, said American and Afghan soldiers abandoned the base on Tuesday afternoon. He said they took the district mayor with them.

Sami said U.S. troops armed local police with more than 20 guns before they left, but that the officers had fled the village and crossed into neighboring Kunar province when 100 militants moved into Wanat.

Cross said her son had volunteered for his latest mission. "When he did, I was just mortified," she said. "He was a real adventurous spirit."

Besides his parents, Bogar is survived by two older sisters, Carise Martindale of Seattle, and Micael Bogar, currently studying in a Fulbright Scholarship program in Eastern Europe.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report. Seattle Times staff reporter Jennifer Sullivan contributed to the report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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