Saturday, February 24, 2007

Jason DeFrenn laid to rest

BARNWELL -- Garth DeFrenn Friday afternoon asked everyone to stand and welcome his son back home.

His son, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Jason DeFrenn, 34, was laid to rest Friday with full military honors as hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects. Jason DeFrenn and another soldier were killed Feb. 2 when their Apache helicopter was shot down north of Baghdad. DeFrenn is the 10th casualty of the Iraq war either from or with close ties to The T&D Region.

The soldier had been expected home in a couple of weeks because his wife, the former Jenny Still of Bamberg, was preparing to deliver the couple's second child.

After learning of her husband's death, Mrs. DeFrenn was taken to Palmetto Baptist in Columbia where doctors worked to induce labor. At approximately 2:35 p.m. on Feb. 6, Christopher Andrew DeFrenn was born, weighing in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

During funeral services at the First Baptist Church of Barnwell, the Rev. Dr. Oliver Joe Murphy said DeFrenn didn't make it back from Iraq for the birth of his son because duty called.

"Being the person that Jason was, he had sworn himself to protect his family and all of us. He did what God called upon him to do so that a comrade may live," Murphy said. "As I think about this occurrence, I think about the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples just before leaving. As you pay your respects, there is joy and rejoicing, because Jason made it home -- his eternal home."

Among the dignitaries attending the funeral were Gov. Mark Sanford, several members of the S.C. House of Representatives and other elected officials.

DeFrenn's father, along with Capt. Jeffrey Shaw, delivered the eulogy.

Garth DeFrenn said even though his heart ached, he knew his son did something very remarkable.

"When he was fired upon and the rear of the helicopter was badly damaged, my son turned around to come between enemy fire and his comrades. In those few seconds, my son decided to lay himself down for his fellow man," he said. "He believed in his country and his duty."

DeFrenn said this was just one example of how many other men and women feel about the war. He described his son as a happy child who loved to fish, hunt and spend time with his grandparents. Acknowledging that his son was fearless, DeFrenn said he was also thoughtful.

"Jason thought by being in Iraq he was protecting his family. By being there (Iraq), he brought honor to this country," he said.

"I couldn't ask for a better homecoming for my son," DeFrenn continued. "He has been honored with the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. This is what he got for being so remarkable."

DeFrenn said his son' wife, Jenny DeFrenn, was a patriot, too.

"She helped fight this war by taking care of the family at home," he said.

DeFrenn said each of his son's children share many of his qualities.

"Alexander looks like him, acts like and smells like him. Jessica has her father's heart," DeFrenn said. "Michael has his father's spirit. He is a warrior and wants to grow up to be a soldier, too."

The fallen soldier's father, referencing the birth of Jason and Jenny's son, Christopher Andrew, on Feb. 6, added, "Last Tuesday, out of this horrible thing that we call death, a life was renewed."

Christopher Andrew was named by his father before he died, said Oliver Hiott, Jenny DeFrenn's cousin.

Barnwell County Councilman David Kenner, also a member of the American Legion Post #253, said as a veteran of the military and a councilman, it was important for him to attend CWO DeFrenn's funeral.

"It's a moving time. Our young men and women are fighting on foreign soil. Many are leaving entire families behind. I hope this (war) is resolved quickly," Kenner said. "But, that does not mean that we are not proud of our soldiers like CWO DeFrenn. I think it's important that we honor and respect his (DeFrenn's) efforts and the efforts of other soldiers who are fighting this war."

Ronny Mock, formerly of Bamberg who now lives in Barnwell, said in spite of what many feel about the war, "I'm grateful to see people (attending the service) who love and support their soldiers."

Bishop Darrel E. Croft, pastor of the House of Praise, told the mourners DeFrenn made a sacrifice that is seldom followed and carried out.

"Every now and then there is a man or woman who knows the definition of true sacrifice," Croft said. "Jason did not conform to the status quo ... He took the next step."

Jason DeFrenn, a nine-year Army veteran, was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas before being deployed to Iraq about 5-1/2 months ago. It was DeFrenn's second tour of duty in Iraq. He had been flying military helicopters for approximately five years.

Originally from Barnwell, DeFrenn attended the Barnwell public school system through 1989. His wife is a 1997 graduate of Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School. Ulmer said the two met about 10 years ago when DeFrenn managed the Bamberg Pizza Hut where Jenny DeFrenn was also employed. They were married in 1999.

The couple had one son together, Michael, who turned 5 one day after his new baby brother was born.

From the Times and Democrat

Related Link:
Jason DeFrenn remembered

Related Link:
Jason Garth DeFrenn reported killed in Iraq