Luzerne soldier dies in Iraq
'The whole community is just bleeding over this,' says sheriff
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
By Helen Lounsbury
BAY CITY TIMES WRITER
MIO - Jason G. Wright was among the first
Army soldiers deployed to Iraq - March 6, shortly before the U.S. invaded - so the Oscoda County teen was scheduled to ship
back to the States in February, relatives said today.
His return will never be. Pfc. Wright, 19,
was killed Monday while guarding a gas station in northern Iraq. Wright died after his vehicle came under fire, the Army reported
"He volunteered to delay his return," said
Wright's aunt, Nancy Bliss of Gaylord. "He told them to let soldiers go home who had wives and children first. He was so unselfish."
Wright's parents, Todd and Leslie Wright,
are longtime Luzerne-area residents. Todd works for a local manufacturer; Leslie is a Mio Au Sable cafeteria worker. The couple
has three other sons, all younger than Jason.
Jason Wright graduated from Mio Au Sable
High in 2002. He played varsity baseball, football and basketball and was known for his speed, said Principal James A. Gendernalik.
"You don't have to dream something nice up
to say about Jason," Gendernalik said Tuesday. "He was a quiet, solid kid and a hard worker.
"When he came back to visit us after boot
camp (last year), he was the perfect example of that saying, 'Stand taller and walk taller,"' Gendernalik continued. "The
Army transformed him. He was confident and seemed proud of what he was doing."
Wright joined the Army in June 2002 because
he wanted to jump out of airplanes, friends said. That December, the Luzerne man was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., to serve
with the 101st Airborne Division, family members said.
On duty in Iraq, Wright served as a mortarman
assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment.
Community members say they overwhelmed Wright's
family with food and visits within a few hours of learning of Jason Wright's death. Army representatives visited Leslie Wright
at school Monday to tell her about the tragedy.
"The whole community is just bleeding over
this," said Oscoda County Sheriff Michael J. Larrison. "Everybody knows his family, and a lot of us knew Jason personally.
Our hearts are just heavy for them. They'll have a lot of support."