Barnwell soldier killed in Iraq

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February 7, 2007

BARNWELL, S.C.---A soldier from Barnwell has died in a helicopter crash in Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Jason Defrenn was on his third tour there.

CWO Defrenn was supposed to come home next Friday to see the birth of his son. Now he's home for good, but it's not how his family had hoped.

Jason Defrenn took his last breath on February 2, 2007 while serving his country.

The 34-year-old Barnwell native was killed in action after his Apache helicopter was shot down just north of Taji, Iraq.

The chopper is now among six US helicopters to go down in Iraq in the last three weeks.

A group affiliated with al Qaeda claimed responsibility for this crash, then released a video apparently showing the attack on the internet.

Three days after Jason's death, his wife gave birth to a healthy eight-pound baby boy who breathed new life for his family.

Jason's father says he always knew his son was a warrior, even as a child. It's why he says Jason chose to become an Apache pilot.

"I believe in my heart he had a notion he wouldn't come back, but he was fearless."

But that day came sooner than he could've ever had imagined...and explaining to Jason's five-year-old son why his daddy wouldn't be coming back was even harder.

Jason leaves behind a wife, Jenni, and four children.

His body will come to Barnwell in the next few days, and they'll have his funeral within a week.

Another US helicopter crashed today north of Baghdad, killing seven people on board. The military says the crash was caused by a mechanical problem, not hostile fire.

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