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Staff Sgt. 1st Class James R. 'J.R.' Stright

| October 30, 2009 12:00 AM

Army Staff Sgt. 1st Class James R. “J. R.” Stright, 29, was killed Friday, Oct. 23, 2009 during a special operations training exercise off the coast of Virginia.

He was born Feb. 18, 1980 at Concord, Mass., to Robert and Kathleen (Callahan) Stright.

He was raised and educated at Libby. He graduated from Libby High School in 1998 and volunteered for Army service in June. Following basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., and advanced individual training at Fort Eustis, Va., he served with 57th Air Medical Ambulance Company at Fort Bragg, N.C., as a helicopter mechanic and crew chief.

In 2003, he joined the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment as a helicopter mechanic. He was a combat veteran with 16 deployments. He served in the U.S. Army for more than a decade. He was assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), headquartered at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. They were noted as “Night Stalkers,” working best at night. He had been with the regiment for more than five years.

Staff Sgt. Stright’s awards include six Air Medals, two Army Commendation Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, three Army Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal-Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, two NCO Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service, Ribbon, the Combat Action Badge, the Senior Aircraft Crewman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.

He will be remembered as a good student who played freshman football but quit when he learned he could get a job and make a living. He loved to cook, was highly self sufficient, and his friends and German shepherd, Lucia, were very important to him. He also loved the freedom of riding Harley Davidson’s and even bought one overseas. He enjoyed online gaming, especially asp-games.com and had many friends on that website.

Survivors include his father, Robert N. Stright, and his wife Jerilyn; his mother, Kathleen Callahan Stright – all of Libby; two brothers, Sean Stright of Seattle, Wash., and his children, Kyleah, Braelin, Forest and Logan; and Aaron Stright of Issaquah, Wash.; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Services will be Monday, Nov. 2 at 1 p.m. at the Libby Christian Church with burial to follow at City of Libby Cemetery with full military honors.