I wanted to add a footnote to John’s life.

As most know John was killed in Baghdad by a IED on 30 November 2006. I would like to relate a quick story and then the results to you.

John had gone to Iraq for the third time, this time he volunteered to go in the place of another soldier who’s wife had just given birth to their first child. On this tour John went to Iraq with a MITT team to train the Iraqi army. This was supposed to be the safest tour yet. However, he and the team were too good for their own benefit and ended up in the thick of things more often than not. Even with the closeness of the new team John was having a rough time of things for a while.

To help out, John and I would talk about what he would do after getting out of the Army in a few years. This would be his last tour in Iraq, he was close enough to retirement that he would be home for good after this tour. Not knowing what to do after he got out, we talked about me making the money to buy some land in Montana and he would spend a few years building us both a house on the property. This was a perfect solution for us both.

It was about this time that I ran across a beer called “Powder Hound” from a small brewery in Missoula Montana. Good beer. As a side benefit the labels peeled off fairly cleanly. I started saving these, and then when I mailed a letter to John I would include a few labels with quotes like “Was Jamming on the fiddle when I drank this.” “This one was really good on a hot day. Bet you wished you had one.” ” More in the fridge when you get here.”. Typical jibes. When he finally got his Cell phone and we started to chat one of the first things he told me was “Your a prick!” (-: From what I understand, he had saved all of the ones I had sent him, up until the day he died.

So, this brings us to why I’m writing this. One night while drinking a few beers, maybe more, I peeled a label off my beer out of habit, and the thought came to me that I would send a note to the brewery and say thank you. Unbeknown to them they gave my friend and I our last insider joke. Well, it seems it struck a chord with the folks at the brewery, and before I knew it I was getting an email from the co-founder of the company. Bjorn Nabozney.

Well, Bjorn and I sent some emails back and forth and I eventually sent him a picture of John during tour 2 that I got from Kelly, his ex, that was so perfectly John.

John in Iraq

Well, on Tuesday the 1st of May 2007 I received another email from Bjorn. It seems that the Big Sky Brewery would like to create a poster based on this picture.

Hi Richard,

I wanted to share the art that we have created. We are close to a final poster version but are stuck on what to say on the poster, we have never done anything like this and have found ourselves at a very emotional crossroads. You will notice we took the photo you sent us and tied the story you shared with us into it. In the photo John was holding a cigarette, we replaced it with a letter which includes a Powder Hound label. We were trying to conjure up the feeling up gee thanks here I am in “the sandbox” and my buddy is sending a beer labels. I hope you find this in good taste and respectful to not only John but all of our folks in uniform, any input you have would be greatly appreciated.

I would like to share that picture with you all now.

Powder Hound in Iraq

Once the poster gets printed I will share with everyone how to get one if they want. I know I want several, and I want to be able to send some to his friends and brothers still in Iraq. This was so out of the blue that I had a hard time even responding to Bjorn at first. You’ll notice that the name tag says “Hartman”

Powder Hound up close

The people at Big Sky are trying to come up with a good logo for the poster. If anyone has any good ideas let me know and I will pass them on.