February 13, 2007
BARNWELL, S.C.---A local soldier killed in Iraq made his final journey home today. The body of Chief Warrant Officer Jason DeFrenn arrived in Barnwell this morning.
Chief DeFrenn was scheduled to return home from Iraq this Friday for the birth of his fourth child.
He's home three days early...but not in the way anyone had hoped.
One of two fundamental emotions are known to bring a small community like Barnwell together...but on this day, joy was nowhere to be found.
"When something like this happens, the community gets together," said Barnwell native Mary Mansfield.
34-year-old Jason DeFrenn was killed in action after his apache helicopter was shot down in iraq just over a week ago.
"He is a member of our community, a member of our family," said Betty McDonald of Barnwell.
His wife Jennifer carried their eight-day-old baby boy, a child Jason never got to hold.
Others carried flags, a precious sign of patriotism, knowing Jason's death represents the life of thousands of troops.
"All of the American soldiers, I wish I could put them all in a ball and just hug them and tell them how much I love them and appreciate what they are doing for our country," said Sandra Hare.
But if there's any comfort for this close community, Jason's father says its knowing his son lived and died with no regrets.
"I know if my son was alive right now, he'd be having a great time," Garth DeFrenn said. "He would just be enjoying the fellowship."
Chief DeFrenn is the second Barnwell soldier to die in Iraq. Sergeant George Buggs was killed in action in 2003
Driving into Barnwell, you can really see how this community has come together. Flags line the roads and people took off work to honor this man.
It was an impressive turnout at the airport today, with people of all ages there.
Chief DeFrenn's funeral is this Friday at 2 o'clock in the afternoon at First Baptist Church in Barnwell.