Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
PATROL BASE WARRIOR KEEP, Iraq — Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI) mourned fallen comrade, Sgt. Jason Denfrund, Jan.1 in a ceremony at Patrol Base Warrior Keep, Iraq.
Denfrund was killed Dec. 25 in an improvised explosive device explosion on a road south of Baghdad. He was a native of Springville, N.Y.
Denfrund, a team leader in Company B, 2-14, graduated from the University of Buffalo where he had played linebacker on the football team. The Soldiers of his unit remembered his affection for the team – which could become mock rage if the Buffalo Bulls were criticized.
He also was “a good family guy,” said his friend, Spc. Anthony Carlson, a native of Oregon City, Ore., and a radio-telephone operator in Co. B.
Denfrund left behind a wife, Melissa, as well as a daughter, Chloe and a son, Jayden, who reside in Illinois.
“He was a great friend,” Carlson said. “He would help anyone. He came to my wedding last year. …We were basically brothers. Our families would get together on weekends.”
Carlson recalled spending time with Denfrund, camping in the mountains around Fort Drum, N.Y.
Staff Sgt. Corey Hollister of Williamsburg, Ohio, a squad leader in Co. B, also spent time with Denfrund. They were in the 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Regt. together during the unit’s last rotation to Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
“He was a good guy to hang out with,” he said. “We’d talk about our families and our kids. He was funny, but he was more serious about his job than anything.”
As a team leader, Denfrund was usually in the front, leading raids and ambushes on anti-Iraqi forces.
Capt. Palmer Phillips, a native of Swampscott, Mass., commander of Co. B, recalled Denfrund’s humor and compassion as well as his skill in hand-to-hand fighting.
“I remember …getting crushed by his 240-pound weight,” Phillips said, recalling combatives training at Fort Drum. “We had a good laugh immediately afterward.”
Phillips also consoled the Soldiers who were with Denfrund after the accident, telling them “I know you did everything you could that day.”
Denfrund’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal, which were awarded posthumously, an Army Commendation Medal, an Army Achievement Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service medals, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, the Kosovo Defense Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Expert Infantryman’s Badge.
Carlson was with Denfrund in his last moments.
“We had a short conversation on the ground that day that he passed away from us,” Carlson said in a voice that threatened to crack. “We never got to finish it.”