Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jason DeFrenn remembered

COLUMBIA, S.C. - For weeks, Chief Warrant Officer Jason DeFrenn‘s family awaited his homecoming, a trip planned as much more than a simple respite from his second tour in Iraq : The nine-year Army veteran was returning to South Carolina to help his wife give birth. Instead, his loved ones are making plans for the 34-year-old Army pilot‘s funeral.

It‘s newborn Christopher who‘s now providing the family a measure of solace. "A healing child," is how Jason DeFrenn‘s father explains it as he alternately gazes at a photo of the son he lost, and at a card stamped with the footprints of his new grandson.

Twenty-three Marines and soldiers have died in helicopter crashes in Iraq since Jan. 20. Most, like DeFrenn, are believed to have been shot down. The latest, which killed seven Marines when their transport helicopter crashed Wednesday, remains under investigation. Four American civilian contractors also were killed in a recent crash.

But in South Carolina, Jason DeFrenn‘s family is focusing on the new baby and the boy‘s three siblings, not how their father died. Garth DeFrenn coached Jenny DeFrenn through the delivery.

"This is all about Jason and Jenny and those four children," he said. "It started with him doing something very, very remarkable. It went to her regenerating life again."

"She always did what Jason wanted," Garth DeFrenn said last week. "She always followed him and supported him."

The support took the couple, who met while Jason DeFrenn was managing a Pizza Hut, from South Carolina to Texas, where he was based at Fort Hood after joining the Army nine years ago. He served one tour in Afghanistan before twice going to Iraq.

"When he was young, he had a spirit of wanting to be a hero," Garth DeFrenn said. "He was one of those kids who wanted adventure."

On an overcast afternoon last week, during a trip to visit his daughter-in-law and new grandson in a Columbia hospital, Garth DeFrenn walked through a city park that is home to dozens of memorials to war veterans. He paused on a footbridge to look out over the granite monuments and bronze sculptures, and broke into tears.

From the Reviewer

Related Link:
Jason Garth DeFrenn reported killed in Iraq