Bonnielee was honored to attend Jesse Lata's funeral; she sent me an email which I hope she doesn't mind if I share:
I was going to tell you about the funeral yesterday; but I needed a little time to digest it, cherish it, and, thank God for such a wonderful human being. Salette (and her husband) had MANY, MANY supporters. The place was full to standing room only and included some of Jesse's doctors and nurses. In fact, it didn't seem like it was an obligatory medical representation; it seemed like there were several there because they just wanted to be. I represented Blue Star Mothers of America, Arizona Chapter 2, and Carol sent an arrangement of flowers ... from the Blue Star Mothers!! I knew she was going to send flowers with me, but I didn't know she was going to send them from our GROUP.
Jesse was born into a military family (Air Force) and wanted to be in the military since he was little. I'm thinking he chose the Army because of his involvement in junior ROTC. But between being little and getting to ROTC, he'd been many places and seen many things. I'm guessing that was MOSTLY due to his dad's military career and I say that only because of my experiences with military life. I compare where I've been and what I've done with before I became a military wife and after I became a military wife. I guess what I mean to say is that many of his experiences went far beyond the normal "family vacation." And he was an achiever!! He earned his Open Water Diver certification at age 12--and that's only because the minimum age to do so was 12! He attended junior high school in Boise, Idaho, where he first joined junior ROTC and then finished at CDO. He was involved in the culinary arts ... "he loved to cook -- and EAT!!" Jesse first contracted leukemia in his junior year of high school. He was in treatment for 5 months. He graduated in 2003, received his Emergency Medical Technician Certificate from Pima Community College and attended the U of A.
He "fulfilled his dream of becoming a soldier by enlisting in the 208th Transportation Company, U.S. Army Reserve in 2003, completed training at Ft. Jackson, S.C. in the summer of 2004, completed his military driver training in MS in early 2005, reported to Ft. Bliss, TX I the summer of 2005, and was deployed to Iraq soon after. While he was there, he had a relapse of the leukemia. Was sent to Germany, then to Walter Reed Hospital, then to University Medical Center in Tucson where he received a cord blood transplant on March 31, 2006."
From what I understand, he was in the hospital for 21 months with the exception of 30 days. I don't know if they were 30 consecutive days or just 30 days total. Salette was with him 24/7 when he was hospitalized ... when he wasn't in the hospital, he even campaigned for his dad who was running for a congressional seat! Jesse never complained about his illness or the treatment ... not the first time, and not this last time. He was one awesome guy ... AND he served our country in spite of the challenges!
What an honor to learn about him!
Note: Special thanks to Carol Herndon and her shop, The Winding Rose in Oracle, for the beautiful flowers