2011-09-27 / Front Page

Owen Community Joins Together To Honor Fallen Hometown Hero

by Michael Stanley Staff Writer

U.S. Army Brigadier General Thomas Harvey (right) presents an American flag to U.S. Army Private First Class Brett Everett Wood’s father, Mitch Wood, during last week’s funeral service at Owen Valley High School. (Staff Photo) U.S. Army Brigadier General Thomas Harvey (right) presents an American flag to U.S. Army Private First Class Brett Everett Wood’s father, Mitch Wood, during last week’s funeral service at Owen Valley High School. (Staff Photo) The life of Brett Everett Wood was celebrated by his hometown community on September 20 in the gymnasium of the late Spencer soldier’s alma mater.

Dignitaries from the State of Indiana, and military representatives from generals to National Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis of Freedom were on hand to pay their respects for Pfc. Wood’s selfless sacrifice for his country.

His cousin and close friend, Josh Wood, told those in attendance of Brett’s final words, as prepared on a pre-deployment road trip. Older brother Nikk Wood said if he had one last chance to speak with Brett, he’d share with him the sense of pride he felt.

Pfc. Brett Everett Wood Pfc. Brett Everett Wood Family friend and United

State Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Dave Allen (ret.) noted the strong bond Brett shared with friends and his own memories of the 2010 OVHS graduate.

Brigadier General Thomas Harvey spoke on behalf of the U.S. Army, Brett’s commanding officer and battle buddies from his company.

“Private First Class Brett Everett Wood joined the Army in 2010. He became a soldier, like other young men of his generation, after the attacks on the United States on 9/11,” General Harvey began. “He was an infantry warrior, assigned to Charlie Company, First Battalion, Fifth Infantry Regiment of the First Stryker Brigade Combat Team. Private First Class Wood was killed in action on September 9th by an improvised explosive device while on duty in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan. Sadly, he joins the ranks of other men and women, who over multiple generations have passed on in service to our nation. To his friends and family here today, especially the gold star family members, I offer you deep and sincere sympathy on behalf of a grateful nation and the entire United States Army.”

General Harvey spoke of the community support given to Brett’s family during their time of loss and sacrifice for a community and country.

“Out at the airport, at the family home, along the roads and streets leading up to this memorial service, Brett was a member of a much larger family. Support shown to Brett’s family by the people of Spencer, the students and faculty of Owen Valley Community High School, the police, sheriff’s, state police, firefighters and the Patriot Guard riders has all been truly magnificent,” General Harvey said. “I’m sure that the people of this community will do all that they can to ensure that Brett will be remembered for future generations. For his service to our Army and to our nation, he will never be forgotten. We, the United States Army are here today to render the dignity, respect and honors that Private Wood so deeply deserves. I am fulfilling a solemn duty and a sacred obligation, because of a promise made to all soldiers – We will never leave a fallen comrade. As we honor his memory, let us all remember how he lived, how he made us all stronger.”

General Harvey read messages from soldiers who served with Pfc. Wood, including his commanding officer, Captain Chris Zagurski. The comments came from a unit memorial service on September 18 at forward operating base Tarnet.

“From Brett’s family, he inherited a very special passion for life, as well as a sense of purpose. When speaking of the fine job Brett’s family did in raising dedication children who strive to achieve a greater sense of purpose and belonging, one must look no further than the fact that this brigade was blessed with having two Private Wood’s,” General Harvey read. “One can say that such inherit qualities were passed on through genes, but more likely than that, it was the time Brett’s family took to develop and grow the man we all know. Brett was always quick to shift the focus of discussion to reflect upon the fond memories he had with his family. When he recalled those memories, you could see the glow in his eyes and the care in his heart. He was the kind of man who you wanted to be your son. The kind of man you wish you had as a brother. I commend the parents of Pfc. Brett Wood and cannot thank them enough for affording us all the opportunity to know such a hero. The soldiers of his unit loved him and they admired him, he kept them loose, he made them smile, even in the toughest times he lifted their spirits.”

General Harvey noted that Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Brian Mains’ said that Brett was a good natured and very outgoing young man who could strike up a conversation with just about anyone.

“Fellow soldiers said pulling guard shift is never fun, but sharing a guard tower with Brett definitely made it better,” General Harvey read. “His sense of humor caused all in his presence to stay grounded and to realize life was something to be enjoyed. A fellow soldier described him as the guy with a smile on his face and nothing would get him down. I can tell you with confidence that he was the same young man in the Army that you raised in your home, in this school and in this town. Brett, like many soldiers today, was a young man who did his duty despite his fears, despite his longing for coming home and having a party, and despite his dreams and aspirations for life away from the battlefield. Soldiers like him don’t serve because they have nothing to loose, but because they value what they have – their family and their friends. They believe those are worth defending. Perhaps more importantly, he fought because he knew his brother and his other platoon brothers to his left and right were depending on him to preserve their lives.”

Brett’s father, Mitch Wood was presented with the awards his son received posthumously, which included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, U.S. Army Good Conduct Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Combat Medal with bronze service star, Global War on Terrorism Medal, NATO Medal and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.

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