This is an interactive biography about Jody Wirawan, which tells the story of his life in words, pictures, videos, and locations.
Even though it often wasn't under the best of circumstances Jody still loved to travel and see new places throughout his life. He was very proud of all the different places he'd been and the style of this biography is a reflection of that.
To begin the tour click on "Introduction" on the right side of the map. Thank you :)
Can't see the map? Try the text only version.
Jody & Fodderwing
(Depok, Indonesia) Jody's father, mother, and sister sit in the living room together...what to name the new baby boy that was on the way? Each had a name in mind: his father wanted Andre, mother - Michael, and sister - Jody.
Each made a great case for their favorite but in the end they took a vote and it was 2-1 in favor of Jody. Jody was the name of his sister's favorite story character at that time, from a cartoon called Jody and Fodderwing based on the book The Yearling.
*At that time Depok only had one tv station. It would broadcast for a few hours a day...one hour in the afternoon and several hours in the evening.
*The evening programming usually included old American tv shows and cartoons from Japan like 'Jody and Fodderwing'.
Picture from the cartoon Jody and Fodderwing.
Jody's sister, father, and mother in Indonesia shortly before he was born.
(Jakarta, Indonesia) Jody was born at a naval hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 26, 1986. He was a big child and seemed to take after his mother's side of the family having similar features to his grandfather and great grandfather. He was the second child and first boy in the Wirawan family.
Jody's first home was in what was at the time a small town called Depok. The whole community waited anxiously for the hospital to give the ok for Jody to go home so they could see him.
*Jody was both an Indonesian and US citizen when he was born.
*The wing of the hospital that Jody was born in was very small, only containing a few rooms.
Picture of Jody shortly after he was born.
Jody's family tree at the time of his birth.
Home To Depok
(Depok, Indonesia) Although everyone there was happy about the new baby boy, Jody's home environment quickly turned turbulent as the marriage between his parents was dissolving. Each parent often stayed away from the house for most of the day, leaving the care of Jody to the housekeepers and general community. However, Jody was a very social child and loved to see all the different people and try the various foods they would offer him.
*On Jody's first birthday his cake had both an American and Indonesian flag on top to celebrate his diverse heritage.
Picture of Jody on his first birthday
Picture of the house in Depok where Jody lived.
Picture of young Jody at a neighbor's house.
(Jakarta Airport) Jody's mother decides to leave the country in leu of officially divorcing. An old co-worker of his mother who now worked in the American Embassy helps to covertly get Jody, his mother, grandmother, and sister out of the country.
The flight is long and packed with people but the stewardesses are attentive and help make things as comfortable for Jody as possible. It's several days before anyone back in Depok knows that he is permanently gone.
*To fly from Indonesia to Michigan takes approximately 23 1/2 hours.
*Jody's first steps in the United States were in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
A picture of Jody and his sister Anita shortly before leaving Indonesia.
(Battle Creek, Michigan) Jody's first experience in a homeless shelter was in Battle Creek, Michigan while his family waited on the list for government housing. The shelter was an old two story house that held many families. It was difficult for him to be in this new environment and he always looked forward to staying over at his grandmother's house on the weekends.
Finally his family was able to move into a place of their own, a three bedroom townhouse. Here he loved to watch movies and play on the new Nintendo his father had sent to him. He often played Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt for as long as he could before finally being told to go outside for a while to get some fresh air.
*The townhouse in Battle Creek was one of the biggest places Jody's family lived in while in the US.
*His favorite things to do on weekends at his grandmother's house were to eat snacks while watching tv or play in the pool out back.
A picture of the townhouse that Jody, his sister, and his mother lived in while in Battle Creek.
Play some of Jody's favorite NES games at this time:
Super Mario Bros
Legend Of Zelda
(Kalamazoo, Michigan) Jody lived in many different apartments in Kalamazoo and both of his parents attended the local university there. His father had followed over from Indonesia in hopes of being with the children and reconsiling the marriage. Jody's mother filed for divorce right away but the courts granted his father visitation rights.
To Jody the first visitation seemed like meeting his father for the first time since he couldn't remember anything from his life back in Indonesia. The visitations were focused mostly on the animosity between his parents and it was impossible to build any relationship with his father. This was frustrating for him because many of his friends were living with their fathers and seemed happy.
*Jody's favorite show at this time was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
*He loved to play on the computer his dad had given him. His favorite computer games were like Spy Hunter, Bushido, and Track & Field.
A school picture of Jody when he lived in Kalamazoo.
A picture of Jody and his sister from when they lived in Kalamazoo.
Play one of Jody's favorite computer games from this time, 'Spy Hunter'.
(Kalamazoo, Michigan) What had started out just as weekends at Grandma's house had eventually grown into stays of several weeks. Jody felt conflicted about this because he liked to be at his grandmothers house but he didnt want to live in a place that wasn't his own home.
His grandmother loved him dearly because he reminded her of her own son, Gerald, who had died many years before in a car accident at the age of 22. She showered Jody with love and affection and tried to make his stays away from home as nice as possible. Their favorite thing to do together was to play boomerang in a field near her apartment and even though it seemed like every time the boomerang was thrown it went in a wacky direction they always had fun and laughed about it.
A picture of Jody's grandmother Florence Ester Kohli.
A picture of Jody from around this time.
(Kalamazoo, Michigan) In Jody's home food was often scarce but when he was staying with his grandmother he could have any kind of food he wanted.
They loved to try out different restaurants around town but their favorite place to go was a particular Chinese restaurant. It had the same Chinese Zodiac placemats year after year but it never got old and while waiting for their food to arrive they liked to take turns thinking of birthdays and trying to match people with their zodiac animals.
* One of the trips to this restaurant was mentioned in the story 'Like Gerald'
Picture of a placemat like the ones in Jody and his grandmother's favorite Chinese restaurant.
Binder Park Zoo
(Battle Creek, Michigan) Jody loved animals and loved to go to the zoo in Battle Creek. His grandmother would take the whole family out for the day and they would visit the animals or go to the events that were hosted there.
Jody's favorite places in the zoo were the petting zoo and the gift shop where they always had toy dinosaurs for sale. Dinosaurs were his favorite kind of animal at the time and he collected as many dinosaur toys as he could.
Picture of the Binder Park Zoo logo.
(Oshtemo, Michigan) Jody's mother became fearful that his father would suddenly take the children to Indonesia the way she had taken them to the US. His father was only allowed to be in the country until the end of college so as the graduation date grew nearer his mother became more worried. She decided to move the kids in secret to Oshtemo, Michigan and cut off ties with their father.
To deal with the stresses of this situation Jody immersed himself in activities to keep himself busy: video games, rollerblading, riding bikes, baseball...mostly video games. His favorite game was P.O.W. - Prisoners Of War. He also was very kind to and helped take good care of the cat his sister had adopted, Joe Sox.
Picture of Jody with Joe Sox
Picture of Joe Sox.
Jody, his sister, and their cat Joe Sox.
Play some of the video games that were Jody's favorite at this time:
P.O.W. - Prisoners Of War
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Super Mario Bros 3
(Portage, Michigan) Jody's family lived briefly in Portage, Michigan as his mother was finishing up college. The highlight of this time for him was the fact that he was able to play on a soccer team for the first time...
(Portage, Michigan) Jody's grandmother sponsored him to play on a soccer team, something he'd been wanting to do for a long time. Jody loved to play soccer and was very happy the day he was taken to go get his soccer gear and uniform. Although his grandmother was usually working during the time the games and practice were held, he would be sure to tell her all about them when she got back.
(Kalamazoo, Michigan) After Jody's mother graduated from college she was unsuccessful in finding a teaching job in Michigan and so decided to move the family to Texas where she felt like there would be more jobs. This was difficult for Jody's grandmother and she worried that she would never see her grandson again.
Jody's mother and sister went to Texas for a couple weeks to get things ready to live there. During this time Jody stayed with his grandmother. This was an important time for him because it was the last time he lived with his grandmother. After moving to Texas Jody never saw any of his Michigan family again.
(Littlefield, Texas) Jody's family lived briefly in Littlefield, Texas with an old highschool friend of his mothers. At that time Littlefield was a very small town surrounded by farmland and only had one stoplight.
By now Jody was used to moving around and starting over at new schools. Instead of concentrating on how sad he was to leave old friends he seemed to only focus on how many new ones he'd make and all the interesting new things he'd see. Jody's mother soon decided to move the family again due to disagreements with the people in Littlefield and still not finding a teaching job.
(Lubbock, Texas) In Lubbock Jody's family lived in a two bedroom apartment that was small but nice. It was near the edge of town and he was always amazed to see the sandstorms come by and engulf everything around the apartment in a cloud of fine sand.
A major change happened while he was living there, his sister was sent to a hospital after attempting suicide. This was a shock to the small family and it was the first time he and his mother had ever lived together alone. It was not long after his sister was gone before it was time to move again.
(Houston, Texas) In Houston Jody and his mother lived in several different places and were homeless at one point, but after a while were able to get settled into a small two bedroom apartment.
After almost a year away his sister came back into the household, which meant that Jody had to move his bed and all of his things from a full-sized bedroom and into the cramped living room/dining room area. He was disappointed but did this without complaint and spent much time looking after his sister. Although he was very young he still tried to do little things to cheer her up like hold her hand while watching tv and bringing her food when she was too sick to leave the bedroom.
Homeless In Alaska
(Rescue Mission Of Fairbanks) After several years of an unsuccessful search for a teaching job in Texas Jody's mother decided it was time to try things out in another state. The family packed their things into a U-Haul and made the two week journey to Alaska. Jody was sad to leave his old life behind but also had a lot of fun on the trip. He loved to travel and enjoyed seeing the different landmarks of all the states they drove through.
When Jody's family arrived at their destination of Fairbanks, Alaska his mother immediately moved them into a homeless shelter, The Fairbanks Rescue Mission, followed by several other shelters.
*During this time Jody ate most of his meals at the Rescue Mission or a local Catholic church.
(Fairbanks, Alaska) After being homeless Jody's family lived in several different apartments around Fairbanks. During this time Jody's favorite things to do were playing outside with friends and going to the computer lab at school on weekends. He also liked to play Starfox on the SNES and played cello for the school orchestra.
This was a particularly difficult time for him because of the lack of family in his life. The fact that he didnt have a father was becoming more distinct and the relationship between he and his mother swung between getting along great and spending a lot of fun times together to her asking (unsuccessfully) for the state to take custody of him. His sister was increasingly spending more time at work or away with friends so when he and his mother weren't getting along he was usually on his own.
(Anchorage, Alaska) After taking the course to become certified to teach in Alaska but still not being able to find teaching work in Fairbanks, Jody's mother decided to move the family to the town of Anchorage which was over 350 miles away. However, his sister refused to move with them so it was just he and his mother from then on.
Jody and his mother were homeless in Anchorage for a while but eventually lived in a small house in the downtown area. Although there were many challenges at that time he also was happy to be in a larger city which had more things to do and more people to see. It was around this time that he really began to understand his mother's struggles in life and became very dedicated to trying to take care of her.
(Little Rock, Arkansas) After many unsuccessful searches for employment as a teacher in Alaska Jody's mother decided to try things in the state of Arkansas. Two major changes marked his short experience in the state: it was the first time he'd ever met his uncles and it was his first experience with foster care.
One day at school Jody was told that there was no adult available at his home to take care of him anymore and so he would be going to a foster home. He lived with two foster families while in Arkansas and it was around this time that he developed a deep belief in Christianity.
(Moose Creek, Alaska) At age thirteen Jody was sent to live with his sister who had just turned eighteen and her wife in Moose Creek, Alaska. He was happy to be there but also felt conflicted about the household because he believed that being gay was a sin. At this time his favorite thing to do was play Pokemon on the SNES and new Game Boy he'd gotten for Christmas.
Before long his mother also came up to live in the small two bedroom apartment. The major turning point of this time for Jody was when his mother called the police claiming that he'd hit her when they were in a room alone together. He was arrested but the courts never charged him and he instead found himself in a place for homeless teens in Fairbanks, Alaska.
His mother was arrested the very next day for trespassing after doubt arose about her previous story and she was asked to leave, but refused to.
Play Jody's favorite game at this time:
Pokemon - Yellow Pikachu Edition
(Fairbanks, Alaska) Jody spent many months in the home for teens before again moving in with his mother. He did his best to help take care of things and to help earn money for them got a job as a busboy at a local restaurant, The Royal Fork. Soon his mother felt like it was time to move again.
(Anchorage, Alaska) Jody lived in many different places in Anchorage, often sharing small efficiency apartments with his mother as she tried to find steady employment.
Anchorage, Alaska After a time there was no place to live and Jody moved into a place for homeless teens called Covenant House Alaska. He was there for a long time and the staff there decided to help get Jody into a local foster family...
(Eagle River, Alaska) Jody's foster family consisted of a father and five brothers, all foster children themselves. He looked up to his foster father and it was here that he decided to become a foster parent when he grew up. He enjoyed being an older brother in the group, something he'd never gotten to do in his biological family.
But Jody also felt conflicted about living away from his mother, he worried about her and felt like it was his duty to take care of and look after her. He often visited her on the weekends and brought her movies and cooked meals for her.
A picture of Jody with his foster brothers.
Another picture of Jody with his foster brothers.
(Anchorage, Alaska) As Jody was finishing high school he spent time in both his foster home and at his mother's apartment. He attended school during the day and worked at night to help pay the bills. His teachers were very understanding of his situation and let him rest when they could to help make up for the sleep he missed the night before while at work.
Jody was very dedicated to graduating high school even though there were many challenges facing him during this time, including already being behind on credits due to the many times he was homeless.
(New York, New York) About a year after the 9/11 attacks Jody and his foster family took a trip to New York to visit Ground Zero. This was a very moving experience for him and it was forever on his mind after that day.
(Arlington, Virginia) After going to New York Jody and his foster family also visited the Pentagon to pay their respects to those who died there.
(Anchorage, Alaska) Over the last few years of Jodys life he'd witnessed several incidents of gun violence and vowed to buy a firearm to protect himself as soon as he was old enough. When he turned eighteen he purchased his first firearm, a Saiga-12.
Jody became increasingly interested in firearms and learned as much as he could about them. He would often spend time at the local shooting range practicing handling and defense tactics.
(Bartlett High School 2004) Through his hard work and efforts Jody is able to graduate on time. This is one of the proudest moments of his life.
Picture of Jody holding his diploma.
Picture of Jody the day of his graduation.
A picture of Jody celebrating his graduation.
(University Of Alaska Anchorage) Jody decides to attend the University Of Alaska Anchorage and work on a masters degree in business management. He's happy to be going to the same university that his foster father teaches at but over time feels like college is not providing the direction in life he was hoping for.
The visits to Ground Zero and the Pentagon had always been on Jody's mind and as the overseas wars heated up he felt more and more compelled to join the military. So after 1 1/2 years in college he decides to join the US Army and is sent to Fort Benning for basic training.
A picture of Jody from around this time.
Another picture of Jody from around this time.
(Fort Benning, Georgia) Boot camp in Georgia is hot and grueling but Jody soon finds that he excels as a soldier in the US Army. He has a passion for ballistics and weaponry and takes great pride in applying himself in service to his country. He often got perfect scores on his exams and qualifications and was licensed on every vehicle he could.
(Fort Hood, Texas) After graduating from basic training Jody is stationed in Fort Hood, Texas. Just like in his childhood he enjoys living in Texas and visiting the different sites around the state.
Even though contact between he and his mother was sometimes inconsistent he always made sure to send her money every time he was paid. He was even able to have his mother visit one Christmas and they had a particularly good time at the range doing some skeet shooting. In 2006 his unit was deployed to Iraq.
(Scotland, Europe) On the way over to Iraq Jody's unit stopped over in Scotland. He loved to travel and was very happy because this was the first time he'd gotten to visit Europe.
(Germany, Europe) Jody's unit also stopped over in Germany and as he had German in his heritage he was especially interested in this country.
(Kuwait, Middle East) Kuwait marked the first time that Jody had ever been in an Arab country and his surroundings there were radically different than anything he'd ever seen before. The next stop for him would be Iraq where he would finally be able serve in full capacity as a soldier for his country.
(Iraq, Middle East) While in Iraq Jody was the headquarters company's armorer and he also served in many different kinds of missions and capacities like logistics operations, training local troops, night raids, and as the machinegunner on a Humvee. He was very proud to be a soldier for his country and worked hard in hopes of helping to prevent another 9/11 from happening.
To de-stress from the pressures of work Jody's favorite things to do in his off time were playing X-Box and watching movies and tv shows from back in the US on his computer.
Picture of Jody before a night raid.
A picture of Jody in Iraq.
A picture of Jody at his desk in Iraq.
(Iraq, Middle East) After being in Iraq for a while Jody got an email from his sister saying that their father had found her through the internet and wanted to talk to him. He felt very conflicted about his father, being both happy to hear from him and angry that he wasn't there through most of his life. He was also surprised that his sister had emailed him because they hadn't had much contact since they were very young. Over the succeeding months he and his sister made sure to talk on the phone every week to get caught up on things.
After over a year in Iraq Jody's unit finally got the ok to come back to the US. He was very proud of the things he'd accomplished there but also looked forward to leaving the military and starting a new life back in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska.
Picture of Jody on a tank in Iraq.
A picture of Jody while he was stationed in Iraq.
A picture Jody took of the Iraq landscape.
(Killeen, Texas) After coming back to the US Jody worked towards transitioning back into civilian life as he finished out his time with the Army.
There was a lot of paperwork to be taken care of as well as things he needed to set up back in his home state. He also had to make a final decision as to whether he wanted to serve in the Anchorage Police Department or as an Alaska State Trooper.
(Anchorage, Alaska) Jody takes a few weeks off to stay with his sisters in Anchorage, Alaska. He's a bit unsure of how the trip will go since the last time the three of them were together they were teenagers and often had conflicting opinions on things. But to his surprise they get along great and actually find they have a lot in common.
Jody dedicates some time to getting things set up for him to live there as well as seeing what things have changed in Anchorage since hed left to become a soldier. He finds that one of his favorite places in the area is still there and takes his sister out for an afternoon at the range before heading back to Killeen.
A picture of Jody from around this time.
A picture of Jody at his sister's house in Anchorage.
Picture of Jody playing pool at his sister's house.
(Killeen, Texas) Jody finishes out the last portion of his commitment to the Army while working at Fort Hood and living in his apartment in Killeen, Texas. He decides that he will apply to the Alaska State Troopers and live with his sisters in Anchorage while he's waiting to find an apartment there.
The day of his death Jody has already stopped going to work at Fort Hood and is waiting out his last couple days before the flight home at his off base apartment in Killeen. His plans are to fly first to Seattle for a short layover to see his mother at the airport and then fly to Anchorage to live with his sisters. However, he became involved in an altercation when two soldiers from his unit came to his off base apartment. The situation became violent and ended with Jody fatally shooting one of the other soldiers and then turning the gun on himself.
Fort Hood Memorial
(Fort Hood, Texas) A memorial for Jody was held by friends and fellow soldiers at the Ironhorse Chapel in Fort Hood, Texas. There was a general sense of shock and disbelief at what had just happened and many struggled to reconcile the events of September eighth with the Jody that they knew.
(Anchorage, Alaska) A memorial was also held for Jody in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska by his sisters, foster father, and foster brothers. Friends, family, and community workers who had helped him all gathered at the University of Alaska Anchorage to honor the young man who had overcome so much in life.
They spoke about the Jody that they knew and the one he planned to become. His plans for the future: to serve as an Alaska State Trooper, be a foster father to six children, and eventually own his own business.
Above all they spoke about the one part of Jody's character that stood out to anyone who knew him, the ability to constantly rise above circumstances and dedicate himself to helping others.
Rest In Peace.
The video played at Jody's memorial.
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Home Page for the Jody Wirawan Memorial
Some of the people mentioned in this map:
(father) Joe Wirawan
(mother) Kitty Linda Kohli
(foster father) Russell Pressley
(sister) Anita Melissa Wirawan
(sister) Jennifer Francine Wirawan
(brother) Nabil Barry Wirawan
(sister) Amelia Tsunami Wirawan
(great grandmother) Florence Ester Kohli
(great grandfather) Clair Kohli
(grandfather) Gerald Clair Kohli
(uncle) John Eaton
(uncle) Greg Eaton
Map and Content: Anita Wirawan
Map and Picture Adjustments: Jennifer Wirawan
Special Thanks To:
Map comments or bugs to report? Contact Anita at this link.
Thank You for taking the time to read Jody's biography :).