Cpl. John Bishop to be laid to rest Thursday in Versailles
Local marine killed in Afghanistan

Wanda English Burnett

The news that every military family never wants to hear was brought home last week as the Bishop family learned their beloved marine had been killed.

Marine Corporal John C. Bishop, 25, had served two tours in Iraq and was on his third tour, the first in Afghanistan, when his convoy was ambushed and he was fatally wounded on September 8, 2010, while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment.

Ripley County officials were quick to bring the flags at the Veterans Memorial on the courthouse lawn to half mast to honor the fallen marine. Wayne Peace, county environmental specialist and emergency management director, contacted the commissioners and veterans service officer, Ken Hylton, to follow proper procedure. Then, he, along with superior court bailiff and retired marine Jim Purdy, and circuit court bailiff, Dave Schmaltz, lowered the flags.

Cpl. Bishop leaves behind his wife, Cpl. Crystal Bishop, who is expecting the couple’s daughter in October. Crystal is a marine from upstate New York who he met on base. She has also served in Iraq, but was stationed in North Carolina at the time of her husband’s death.

The couple was married December 15, 2009, with family members saying although Bishop was 6’4" and Crystal was “much smaller” they were a perfect match.

“She (Crystal) kept him in line,” laughed Mike Bishop of Versailles, brother of the fallen hero.
A four-year-old son from a previous marriage, K-Sean, will also miss his daddy. Mike’s laughter quickly turned to tears as he noted, “He (John) loved that little boy so much.”

Cpl. Bishop loved children.

According to Ripley Publishing Co. files, he told this writer stories of a tour he had been on in Iraq when home on leave in 2005. “What you don’t always see on TV is the marines giving candy to the little kids.” He had a broad smile and twinkle in his eye when he spoke of the children. At the time he was a 20-year-old who didn’t have any children of his own.

His nieces and nephews were all special to him. Family members told the Osgood Journal he would always dedicate a day to them when he came home on leave. “He always made sure he got to spend time with each of them,” Mike noted.

A comment given by his niece, “It won’t be the same without Uncle John-John,” was a sentiment echoed by all his family.

Cpl. Bishop was a family man. He always enjoyed the homecoming or going away parties given by his extensive family. He has eight siblings, who all have their special memories.

His mother, Sarah Thomas, lives in Columbus now, but has strong ties to Ripley County. She worked for the county in the health department several years ago and has many family members still in the area.
When her son was home in July of this year, he expressed his wishes for final internment should something “happen.”

When Sarah got the news she knew her son wanted to be buried next to his father, Gene Bishop, at the Cliff Hill Cemetery in Versailles.

Gene was so proud of his marine son. Before he passed away in 2006, he told anyone who would listen about John.

Memories of a life shared with so many were shared last week as Cpl. Bishop was remembered.
“You should tell people everyday that you love them,” was advice given by the marine’s aunt, Charlene Keck, as she wiped away the tears. She works in the county’s vital records division, along with her daughter, Susann Abdon.

“He was just genuinely a good boy - a very good soul,” Keck told the Osgood Journal. “He was always hugging everyone.”

Susann agreed. She shared her cousin’s fun loving side. She recalled a going away party where “John broke out in song” to the amazement of his family. “He was quite the entertainer,” she smiled.

Laughter and tears would be emotions displayed by everyone who had stories to tell.

Becky Horn, a close family friend, remembered him as a gangly kid who “was always bugging us.” She was friends with his step-sister, Cathy, and spent a lot of time at the Bishop home in Versailles and has plenty of good times to remember. She also recalled when Bishop came home when his father died. “I just couldn’t believe how grown up he was.” The skinny kid was gone - and a strong, muscular marine in full uniform stood before her.

Little known was the fact that Bishop played in a band called Kabella, according to Horn. She said she regrets not going to hear him when he was home on leave once and begged her to come.

According to Ripley Publishing Co. files, Cpl. Bishop told The Versailles Republican, “I always wanted to be a marine.” While he said his brother, Tyson, influenced him, he said it wasn’t the ultimate deciding factor.

Bishop signed up in 2002 in the Delayed Entry Program. After graduating from Southwestern Shelby High School in 2003, he was on his way to fulfilling his dream.

Before that, Bishop spent a year at South Ripley High School in Versailles, where he made may friendships.
While on tour in Iraq, Belinda Mockbee’s 7th grade class at South Ripley wrote the marine letters. About those letters, Bishop said, ‘It’s the best.” He loved getting letters and packages from home and visited the class who wrote him on one return trip home. He also surprised one of his nieces at Jac-Cen-Del school by visiting there as well.

The tough marine is described by family members as a “fun-loving guy” one who made those around him laugh.

“Oh, yes, he was quite a character,” noted his brother Mike.

Sister to the fallen hero, Amy Parker of Osgood, echoed her brother, saying he was always “one-up” on everyone. Even when they tried to surprise him once at the airport he came in the back way and actually surprised them!

She never dreamed her brother’s trip home in July would be the last time she would see him alive. Amy told the Osgood Journal “You hear on the news about soldiers killed, but you just can’t image it will happen to you.”

Once when her brother was home on leave and the family was celebrating, he told them to continue to pray for his military brothers and sisters still in harm’s way. “That’s what kind of a guy he was,” she noted.

Mike shared that his brother wasn’t looking forward to the tour he was on. “He just wanted to do his duty and get home,” he noted. He said Bishop had plans to become a conservation officer since he loved the outdoors so much.

As Marine Cpl. Bishop is being hailed a hero - a brave marine who gave his life in the line of duty, his brother, Mike, told the Osgood Journal, “He’s our brother.”

The memories of a little boy who grew into a man everyone wanted to be around are what the family of Cpl. Bishop will carry in their hearts as they try to make sense of this senseless tragedy.

Military funeral set
Funeral services will be held Thursday, September 16 at 11:00 a.m. at the Versailles Baptist Church for Cpl. John C. Bishop, 25, of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, who passed away Wednesday, September 8, 2010. Pastor Bob Lay will officiate the services.

Cpl. Bishop was a squad leader assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, and was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

He was promoted to Corporal March 1, 2007. He deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from June 2004 to January 2005 and September 2005 to March 2006. Most recently he deployed in support of Operating Enduring Freedom in July 2010.

Cpl. Bishop's awards include the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Visitation will be Wednesday, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Versailles Baptist Church Family Life Center.

Burial will be in the Cliff Hill Cemetery in Versailles where he will be taken to his final resting place by a horse drawn caisson.He will be buried with full military honors.
Cpl. Bishop was born at Batesville on October 17, 1984, the son of Eugene and Sarah Kenens Bishop and was married to Crystal Cade on December 15, 2009.

Survivors include his wife, Cpl. Crystal Bishop of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; one son, K-Sean Bishop; his mother, Sarah Thomas of Columbus; brothers William (Martha) Bishop of Moores Hill; Mike (Peggy) Bishop of Versailles; Anthony (Cathleen) Thomas, Eric (Missy) Thomas of Seymour; Jamey (Tammy) Bishop of Hurricane, West Virginia; and Tyson (Tara) Bishop of Indianapolis. Sisters include Nancy (Bruce) Braley of New Paris, Pennsylvania; and Amy (Ryan) Parker of Osgood. He is also survived by two grandmothers, Beulah Lamb of Versailles and June (Tom) Ramey of North Vernon.
Cpl. Bishop attended South Ripley High School as a junior and was a 2003 graduate of Southwestern Shelby High School.

Memorials may be given to benefit Cpl. Bishop’s children in care of the Stratton-Karsteter Funeral Home at PO Box 84, Versailles, IN 47042. Online condolences made be made at skfuneralhome.com.

Corporal John C. Bishop

The hearse carrying the body of fallen Marine Cpl. John C. Bishop came through the town of Versailles flanked by State Police motorcycles and other police vehicles in the procession that came from the North Vernon airstrip to the Stratton-Karsteter Funeral Home in Versailles. Family members followed the hearse with Patriot Guard Riders staying close to the family throughout the procession.