‘The hurt never goes away:’ Pa. man who lost son at war helps others

Burton Kephart of Franklin lost his son in the Iraq War 13 years ago; He now passes out a booklet to help others cope

Jonathan Kephart died in battle in Iraq on April 8, 2004. He was serving as a military policeman.


FRANKLIN, Pa. (WYTV) – Thirteen years ago, Burton Kephart of Franklin lost his son in the Iraq War. Ever since, he has been sharing his story to help families cope with their fallen soldiers.

“He was there 10 days when he got in a horrendous ambush,”  Kephart said. “He died from his injuries in that fight.”

The day was April 8, 2004. Jonathan Kephart was serving as a military policeman in Iraq.

“It does become easier,” Burton said. “But the hurt never goes away.”

Burton, who served in the Vietnam War, says losing his son in battle changed the meaning of Memorial Day.

“I participate in every event I can possibly attend during the Memorial Day weekend,” he said.

Often, Burton passes out a 48-page booklet called “Proven in Battle.” He wrote it 11 months after Jonathan’s death.

His inspiration came during an event at Arlington National Cemetery, where he says he saw many families struck with grief.

“So I had a peace that they did not know about,” Burton said. “I was burdened to try and be of help to them, and from that desire, we wrote that little booklet.”

Burton travels all over passing out the booklet, estimating he hands out 5,000 per year.

For the past three years, he went to Buhl Park’s Armed Forces Day in Hermitage. He has even traveled as far as California to share the story.

The booklet tells the events in order from the phone call about Jonathan’s death to the funeral. It also offers thoughts from Burton and his wife.

He says his story goes beyond remembering just Jonathan, but also all the men and women who serve our country.

“As the old saying goes, ‘All gave some and some gave all,'” Burton said.

If you’re interested in Burton’s booklet, contact him by email at dkeps14972000@usachoice.net or dkeps14972000@yahoo.com