“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
The University of Oklahoma and Patriot Ford would like to honor a fallen hero this week. This weeks Patriot of the Game is US Army First Lieutenant David T Wright. First Lieutenant Wright graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2006. While at OU, he was a member of the OU Track Team and ran the 110 meter hurdles and was a 2004 All Big 12 Honoree. After college he enlisted in the Army and after Basic Training went through Officer Candidate School at Ft Benning, GA. He was then assigned to Ft Lewis, WA with the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. On September 14, 2009, while serving in Southern Afghanistan, First Lieutenant Wright was killed when an explosive device was detonated on his vehicle. He was the first former OU student-athlete to be killed in active duty service in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
David Timothy Wright II was born on July 7th, 1983, in Norman, Oklahoma. He was a graduate of Moore High School and the University of Oklahoma, earning a degree in Criminal Justice while on a full track scholarship. Following graduation David enlisted in the United States Army in 2007. He was ordered to report to Fort Benning, Georgia for his basic training and there he would earn the Army Achievement Medal for being named the “Soldier of the Cycle.” Ultimately, David completed Officer Candidate School (OCS) and the Infantry Officer Basic Course while at Fort Benning.
Early on in his Army career, David T. Wright II made a lasting impression on the people he met at Fort Benning. One of his closest friends and a fellow soldier, 1Lt Reamer Argo, had this to say about David:
“You always hear about special people rising up in stressful situation to shine their brightest when the times are toughest…….This would be one of the best ways to describe Dave…..He inspired us with his leadership and determination to make it through the hard times…..We spent so much time together and I enjoyed every second.”
–1Lt Reamer Argo
Following his graduation from OCS, now a United States Army officer, Lt. David T. Wright II soon found himself deployed to Afghanistan and quickly rose to the position of senior platoon leader for Blackwatch Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment. Lt. Wright soon earned the respect, admiration and love of the men he led:
“We all loved Lt Wright on a professional level because he was a great leader. We loved him on a personal level because he treated us with respect…..Selfless, intelligent, courageous, and the best leader 2nd platoon could have ever had…..He filled shoes that we all thought would be tough to fill and left behind shoes that will be impossible to fill.”
–Spc Trevor Lampton
Lt. Wright quickly made an impression on his commanding officer with his demonstration of leadership, confidence, and love he exhibited for the men he led. His commanding officer called him “a Soldier’s Soldier” with drive, initiative and desire that set him apart:
“He was a warrior, a leader, and a friend to many. Soldiers looked up to him, leaders respected him…… He believed in the mission here and had the confidence that regardless of how difficult the situation may be, he could make a difference……He cared endlessly for them (his men), sacrificing so much of himself to ensure they were ready to deploy and fight, both personally and professionally….They respected him tremendously.”
–Capt Casey Thoreen, Commanding Officer
Captain Thoreen called Lt. Wright his “go-to guy” and described several of his missions:
“Through eight days of dismounted patrols through the Southern Arghandab River Valley, and enemy stronghold that head already taken a number of American lives, Dave led his Platoon exceptionally. I consistently gave him the most difficult missions, always kept his platoon in the lead, and knew that even with just my general guidance and intent, I could count on Dave and his guys to come out on top. We conducted a raid on a Taliban compound……..he and his guys were wading through a fast moving chest deep river, holding their equipment high over their heads to get around to the enemy’s main escape route, I became worried they wouldn’t be able to continue. Yet, in true 2nd Platoon fashion, they did, becoming the pivotal point in the operation…..Dave and his guys never ceased to impress.”
“He was an incredible Soldier and individual. His life was cut far too short, but he accomplished and experienced so much more in those few years than many will accomplish in a lifetime.”
Therefore it was no surprise that Battalion Commander, Lt colonel Jeffrey French, called on 1Lt David T. Wright II and his platoon to carry out a dangerous mission that the Lt Colonel himself would lead. The platoon had adopted their own name and mascot, the Mighty Goldfish Warriors, and wore patches on their Individual Body Armor identifying themselves. On a number of occasions intercepts of Taliban communication indicated their fear of “the guys with the fish on their chests.” The mission was completed successfully and Lt Wright and his platoon were ordered to return to base.
And so it was on that fateful date, September 14th 2009, as Lt Wright was performing his duties as a United States Army soldier and preparing to lead his platoon back to safety, that David was released from his earthly bonds and taken on the wings of an angel up into Heaven. The light that was his life will never be extinguished, instead It shines down on all of us from up on High whenever we remember and honor a true American hero…..Lt David Timothy Wright II.
“Nobody else can ever live up to the bar that this platoon leader set….If any of you are wondering why you don’t feel his presence here today, it is because he is still in Afghanistan, looking after his boy.”
“So why did they do it? I think we all know why….They did it because they knew the mission and being there for their brothers was important enough to risk everything. They did it because they knew they were making a difference.”
“I know that the Soldiers with whom David served have a great deal of respect and love for him. His actions and service to his country were definitely not in vain and on numerous occasions, saved the life of his brothers serving next to him.”
–Lt Col Jeffrey French, Commander 1st Infantry Regiment
Along with being a tremendous Army officer and leader, David was also a cherished friend to many and the loving son of Tim and Michele Wright.
At Patriot Ford we feel deeply honored to be able to present this award each time. If you’d like to nominate a HERO…. go to patriotford.com/hero