'Perfect' portrait helps son remember soldier dad

Thursday , February 23, 2012 - 7:51 PM

(NICHOlAS DRANEY/Standard-Examiner)Jase Brostrom reacts to hearing he will receive a portrait of

PLAIN CITY — Jase Brostrom lost his father nearly four years ago, but thanks to a larger-than-life painting, he’ll always be able to see his dad.

Jase, a student in Steve Gertsch’s third-grade class at Plain City Elementary School, was surprised Thursday afternoon with a 22-by-28-inch portrait of his father, Army 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom, who was killed during a battle with insurgents in a tiny Afghan village in July 2008.

The portrait was painted by Dallas-area artist Phil Taylor, who along with his wife, Lisa, runs the American Fallen Soldiers Project, a nonprofit organization that travels around the country delivering to portraits of fallen service members to their families.

“This is perfect,” a visibly excited Jase said when the portrait of his father was unveiled. “I’ll always be able to look at it when I want to think of my dad.”

Taylor, who has painted portraits for families of 103 deceased service members, said his piece on Brostrom took him longer than any other he has done.

“I tried seven different times with this one, and painted two to completion. It’s never taken me this long.”

Taylor said his portraits are mostly black and white, with any color reserved for the soldier’s eyes and an American flag waving in the background.

Jase’s portrait was a print of the original painting, which was delivered a few days ago to Brostrom’s parents, Dave and Mary Jo, who live near Honolulu.

Taylor said he likes to deliver the portraits in public venues so the soldiers can be recognized by as many people as possible.

Brostrom, assigned to the 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, posthumously received the Silver Star Medal — the third-highest military honor. He died returning to a firefight to save fellow soldiers.

Lindsey Johnson, Jase’s mother, said her son was in awe of the painting.

“He’s proud of his dad,” she said. “He thinks of his dad as a hero.”

Johnson said she, too, was touched by the gesture.

“It’s just awesome to know that there are still people out there who care,” she said. “There are still people out there who want to help.”

Jase’s maternal grandparents, David and Kay Spargur, and his aunt, Deanne Allshouse, watched him receive the portrait.

Students from Gertsch’s class also recited a poem about freedom for Jase.

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