Sunday, April 01, 2007

Army Staff Sgt. Jason R. Arnette

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Jason R. Arnette, 24, of Amelia, Va.

SSgt. Arnette was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.; died April 1, 2007 from wounds suffered March 31 in Baghdad when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed was Spc. Wilfred Flores.

Washington Post -- Jason R. Arnette, who grew up southwest of Richmond, played soccer in high school and made many friends, was a man marked by a distinctive set of goals, attitudes and ambitions.

As a teenager, he went on church-sponsored trips to Guatemala to build an orphanage and a medical center. His wife said he wanted to adopt a son of another race. And, his mother said, he had wished since age 3 to be a soldier.

On Sunday, Staff Sgt. Jason R. Arnette, 24, of Amelia, Va., died of wounds suffered the previous day in Baghdad when a roadside bomb blew up near his vehicle, the Pentagon said last night.

"My son lived and died doing what he liked doing," his mother, Michelle Arnette, said last night. "He loved the discipline and the structure."

The bigger the challenge, his mother said, "the more he aspired to do it." During his five years in the Army, she said, he served one tour in Korea and was sent three times to Iraq.

Her son, she said, was "a special young fellow" who was so friendly that "he never met a stranger." At Amelia County High School, he had been in the ROTC and had played soccer, she said. Those who played with him remained among his closest friends, she said.

At 13 and again at 16, she said, Arnette and others from Amelia's Faith Christian Church traveled to Guatemala for the building projects.

In school, Arnette was a year ahead of Shenandoah Sky Hughes; they became close while he was in the Army and married in 2004.

"He was ready to start a life," his wife said last night. "He wanted kids. He would have been a really great father."

Arnette was adventurous, a lover of sports and the outdoors, and wanted to become a history teacher, his wife said.

She said he "accepted everybody" and believed he could "connect with anybody."

One of Arnette's ambitions, she said, was to adopt an African American child because he felt it would send a message against racism.

He loved to tell stories, she said, and "he loved me very, very much."

The last time she saw him, Hughes Arnette said, was in December. It was the month of her graduation from Radford College, and he paid a surprise visit home from Iraq.

His father-in-law, Roger Hughes, said that he learned from Arnette on that visit that the sergeant "really, really did not want to be" in Iraq, although "his wife doesn't want to say that."

Arnette was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, N.Y.

Army Staff Sgt. Jason R. Arnette was killed in action on 4/1/07.

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