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JBLM soldier honored

Green Beret honored by hometown high school with dedication of memorial stone

Retired Col. Kenneth J. Hurst left, James Fussell center, and Jackie Nickel, Wright’s mother, unveil Wright’s memorial stone at a dedication ceremony at the Southwestern Junior-Senior High School in Shelbyville, Indiana. Photo credit: Courtesy photo

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SHELBYVILLE, Ind. — Sgt. Jeremy R. Wright, a Special Forces communications sergeant who was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), was honored by the Southwestern Consolidated School District with the dedication of a memorial stone at the Southwestern Junior-Senior High School on May 14, 2021.

Wright, a Shelbyville native, joined the U.S. Army in April 2002 and completed the Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in July 2004. He was then assigned to 1st SFG (A) at Fort Lewis, Washington, the following month. He was killed in action while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom Jan. 3, 2005, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Ground Mobility Vehicle in Afghanistan.

"Our family thanks everyone who has made this monument possible so that Jeremy will be remembered for generations to come," said Jackie Nickel, Wright's mother. "(The) courage to step up and be accountable and responsible is what I hope we can all take from his example."

The memorial was erected to remember who Wright was and what he did. Inscribed on the stone is Wright's name, service history and team - Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 142 - along with his athletic and academic achievements in high school and Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana.

Jeremy was an elite student, athlete and soldier, said Nickel. Above all else, he was a person of elite character, morals and courage. His outstanding life was formed by his loving and supporting family; the community and schools where he was shown love and respect, and by the brotherhood of Green Berets who took him in and showed him a bond unlike any other.

Wright, a 1992 Southwestern Junior-Senior High School graduate, was the Indiana state high school champion in the 3,200-meter run and remains the school's only state champion. He was the senior class president and salutatorian.

"Jeremy was unassuming, but his performance spoke for itself," said a Special Forces senior sergeant with 1st SFG (A) who attended SFQC with Wright. "In the (Special Forces Communications Sergeant) Course, he was one of the top students."

During SFQC language training, he and Wright became close as part of a running crew who met three times a week.

"We'd show up to do a six-mile run at (6 a.m.)," he said. "We'd look around for Jeremy and we'd see him come up jogging all sweaty because he'd already run 10 miles ... He'd still crush us."

Among Wright's many victories as a competitive runner is the Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.3-mile race from Manitou Springs, Colorado, to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak - a vertical climb of 7,800 feet - which he won in 1998 and 1999.

The Green Beret recounted a personal story of Wright - both military paratroopers - when they were waiting to jump during SFQC.

"He brought flash cards and was studying Thai," he said. (The jump) was your break away from the classroom. Instead, he taught me the Thai alphabet ... He had a knack for teaching. That's what we do; we're all teachers in uniform overseas."

At the dedication ceremony, Jeremy Miller, president of the Special Forces Association Indiana Chapter 500, spoke of Wright's sacrifice in the defense of our nation.

"From this day forward, this monument will serve as a reminder to (the) Southwestern community, the state of Indiana, and our fellow veterans and citizens, that freedom is not something that is given, but is earned through the unrelenting dedication and sacrifice of a few so that millions may live in peace," he said.

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