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Army Pfc. Jason G. Wright, 19, of Luzerne, Mich.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based in Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed while on security duty December 8 when his vehicle came under fire from a passing vehicle in Mosul, Iraq.


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Mourners gather in Mio for soldier's funeral
Associated Press

Friends and family wore red, white and blue ribbons bearing military and high school pictures of Pfc. Jason G. Wright as they gathered Monday to remember the fallen soldier.

Wright, 19, of Luzerne was killed Dec. 8 when his vehicle came under fire while he was providing security at a gas station in Mosul, Iraq.

Mourners packed St. Mary Catholic Church, where the Rev. Gregory Kurutz told them Wright, who was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star posthumously, made the supreme sacrifice but did not die in vain.

"He died a heroic death to crush war from the face of Earth," Kurutz said.

Jane Roznowski said the immense support showered on Wright's family by the community is not surprising in this small town in northern Michigan's Oscoda County.

"Everyone comes together" to support people who have suffered a loss, Roznowski told The Alpena News. "It's not the first time we've done it. Everyone pitches in."

Neighbor Natalie Giardina described Wright as a well-mannered boy who was protective of his three younger brothers. She remembered how the boys would slide down a hill on her property during the winter and how she expressed concern for their safety on a particularly icy day.

"He said, 'don't worry Mrs. Giardina, I'll protect my brothers,'" Giardina recalled. "Then he went on to protect us."

Wright gave up an opportunity to come home for Christmas so another soldier could be with his own family during the holidays.

"That was his unselfish nature," Giardina said. "That was the personality he had."

Wright served as a mortarman in the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky. His platoon leader Capt. Bill Ball said Wright immediately fit in.

"He just fit into the Army," Ball said.

Luzerne soldier dies in Iraq 'The whole community is just bleeding over this,' says sheriff

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

By Helen Lounsbury

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 Tuesday.

"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."