Army Corporal Jonathan Bartlett, an Iraq war veteran and double amputee who was featured in numerous Virginian-Pilot stories as he recovered from his injuries, died at his home in Chesapeake. He was 27 years old.
On Sept. 25, 2004, Bartlett was a 19-year-old Army infantryman at the wheel of a Humvee outside Fallujah when it hit an IED. He lost one leg in the blast; the other was amputated soon after.
He spent 13 months recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, where he learned to walk on prosthetic legs and amused nurses, therapists and visitors with his salty language and black humor. He liked to wear T-shirts referencing the stumps of his legs. One read: “I was golfing. I found the alligator.” Another admonished: “Tell your children not to stare, or the bogeyman will take their legs, too.”
A graduate of Maury High School, Bartlett returned to Norfolk in 2005 and enrolled at Old Dominion. He eventually moved into a wheelchair-accessible home in Deep Creek purchased with the aid of a veterans organization.
In 2007, Bartlett was one of 10 service members featured in an HBO documentary called “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq.”
He graduated in 2011 and got a job with the federal government, working in human resources at Norfolk Naval Station.
Bartlett was outspoken and opinionated, with a flair for the dramatic; he’d regularly post manifestos about politics, religion and government on Facebook, and link to essays and articles that invariably made him mad.
His mother, Esther Bartlett of Norfolk, said she saw him a few times in the week prior and Jon seemed his usual cocky self.
“We knew he had demons,” she said. “He brought probably more than a few of them back from Iraq with him. We thought he had at least made some kind of peace with them.”
CPL Jonathan Bartlett lost his battle with PTSD, April 16, 2012. He was 27 years old.