Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jesse B. Albrecht dies of 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

The family of a Western Wisconsin soldier who died in Iraq last week is speaking out about the man they remember as kind, funny and mischievous.

31-year-old Sergeant 1st Class Jesse Albrecht served with the Army for almost 14 years.

For the past few, he served with the 725th Brigade, based at Fort Richardson in Alaska.

Jesse had just built a home there with his wife, Crystal, when he was deployed to Iraq in October.

But an improvised explosive device landed near Albrecht's vehicle Thursday morning, cutting his life, and the lives of two other soldiers short.

Jesse Albrecht's family remembers him as someone who could turn any situation into a positive one.

"He could always make you smile, make you laugh no matter what the situation was," said Jesse's sister, Kathie Sylte. "He always had something funny to make you smile."

Jesse grew up all over Western Wisconsin, most recently calling New Richmond home.

A determined man, Jesse's family says he joined the army during his junior year at Prescott High School.

"He was proud to be in the service," Sylte said. "He took it seriously. It was his job."

Although he couldn't come home to visit often, Jesse's family says he always made time for family: e-mailing his brother and sisters often, calling his mother several times a week.

"He always would say: tell everyone I'm alive and kickin'," said Jesse's mother, Denise Albrecht. "That's always how he ended it."

And serving as a wonderful father to his 11-year-old daughter Salina.

"Even though he was where he was, he was always there for you," Sylte said. "Any free minute he had, he spent with her."

And Jesse's mother says his dedication to his batallion was evident, by the letter a fellow comrade planned to read at Jesse's memorial service on the base Tuesday:

"He was a true leader of soldiers," the letter reads. "He set the standard so high that no one else came close to his accomplishments."

And Jesse's family says they're still having a difficult time understanding the man who could light up a room with his smile is gone.

"One of the first questions I first asked was are you 100 percent sure it's him," Sylte said.

From WEAU 13