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Army Spc. Jameson Lindskog, 23, Pleasanton; among 6 killed in Afghan firefight

The medic took a single-minded, methodical approach to his job that earned him respect and admiration from officers and enlisted alike, his parents were told.

July 24, 2011|By Scott Glover, Los Angeles Times
  • Jameson Lindskog was tending to a fallen comrade when he was fatally shot himself, his family was told by Army officials.
Jameson Lindskog was tending to a fallen comrade when he was fatally shot…

Like many people exhibiting traits of the mild form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome, Jameson Lindskog often saw the world in black and white.

Lindskog tended to be rigid — to the point of socially awkward — when it came to expectations of himself and others.

So it was no surprise, his father said, that his son responded unflinchingly when he was put to the test as an Army medic in Afghanistan.

On March 29, the 23-year-old specialist's unit came under fire in eastern Kunar province and several soldiers were hit by small-arms fire.

Lindskog rushed to the aid of one of the wounded, his parents said. He was tending to his fallen comrade when he was fatally shot himself, the family was told by Army officials.

"When the time came, he did not hesitate. He did not falter. He did his job," Lindskog's father, Curtis, said recently.

Five other soldiers were killed in the firefight.

Lindskog was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

As a child growing up in the Bay Area suburb of Pleasanton, Lindskog struggled to fit in. He had problems making friends and got below-average grades in school. Teachers and school administrators insisted his problems were behavioral, his parents said.

But testing eventually revealed that he had a learning disability. He was found to have several traits of those with Asperger's, a condition characterized by normal intelligence but poor social skills. Someone with Asperger's, for example, may have trouble reading body language that others would consider obvious, or telling a white lie to avoid hurting another's feelings.

Lindskog's parents enrolled him in the Orion Academy, which specializes in teaching college prep courses to children with Asperger's and other learning disabilities. His grades improved dramatically. After graduation in 2006, he went to trade school and became a licensed massage therapist but had a tough time finding work in a depressed job market.

One day, he came home and declared that he had joined the Army, said his mother, Donna Walker.

Initially, Walker was not sure this was the right decision for her son, a quiet, sensitive, self-described "mama's boy" who loved animals, taught himself to play piano by ear and much preferred video games to outdoor sports.

An aptitude test Lindskog took at the recruiting center suggested that he was well-suited to become a medic, a path he chose to pursue.

As he did in civilian life, in the military Lindskog continued to tell it as he saw it, Lindskog's mother said she was told by several of her son's fellow soldiers. And he did that regardless of how many stripes the person he was talking to had on his sleeve.

"He loved to correct people," his mother said. He would typically begin such comments with the phrase, "Well, technically…"

That refrain earned him the nickname "Technically" among some of the guys in his unit, she said.

Despite the ribbing, Lindskog's single-minded, methodical approach to his job earned him respect and admiration from officers and enlisted alike, his parents said they were told.

The night before he was killed, he spent hours preparing his gear in case there were heavy casualties during the next day's mission. He pre-sized tourniquets to the different physiques of the soldiers in his unit and made sure he had supplies for any scenario that might unfold.

Even after he had been shot, Lindskog calmly instructed another soldier who came to his side on how to administer first aid to him, the soldier would later tell Lindskog's mother.

When he was done, Lindskog told him: "That's it. That's all you can do for me."

Then he added, "Just hold my hand."

scott.glover@latimes.com

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