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Sunday, 9-Oct-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Pfc Jason Frye

Jason Frye and Meredith Odato
These stories are from the local areas of our lost Warlords. I posted them in full in case the sites do not hold archives. - JHD


Perry Marine killed in Iraq

By Karla Browne, October 09, 2005

Gary and Connie Frye of Landisburg sent both of their sons to Iraq, both with the Marines.

The elder, Cpl. Adam Frye, 22, came home in January after two deployments. The younger, Pfc. Jason Frye, 19, won’t be coming home. He was killed in a roadside bomb explosion Thursday near Al Karmah while in combat.

Connie says she had a feeling that she wouldn’t see her younger son again.

“I didn’t have the feeling with my first son. My first son and I never made any plans,” she says. But she and Jason had planned part of his funeral before he left — picking out some songs, Bible verses and “bagpipes — he wanted bagpipes.”

When the call came, mom knew

So when the call came at 1:30 p.m. Friday from her husband’s boss at Landisburg Post Office, she knew. The postmaster said Gary needed her, but she knew.

Her screams woke up Adam, who was sleeping on the couch in preparation for the night shift at Roadway Express in Middlesex Township, where he operates a fork lift since getting out of the service.

It wasn’t until they got to the post office, where Gary is a mail carrier, that the family discovered one of the Marine sergeants who brought the news had served with Adam in the battle for Fallujah.

The sergeants had come to the post office to get directions to the Fryes’ house, not realizing that Gary worked there.

And Gary had known as soon as he saw the Marines’ uniforms that his younger son had been killed.

More news came at midnight Friday, when Jason’s commanding officer called from Iraq.

“He then told us that it was instantly,” Connie says. A machine gunner on a Humvee, Jason died with three other members of his unit when an improvised explosive device blew up the vehicle.

The commanding officer asked Connie if she would accept phone calls and letters from “the guys in his unit.”

She was more than ready to receive them, while understanding that he had to ask her permission because some parents might be too angry to receive them.

Remembering Jason

“I’m not angry at the world, the war, at God; I’m just angry at the time I’m going to miss that he’s not living,” Connie says.

Jason’s girlfriend says the same.

“I’m not angry because I know that Jason was so proud to be in that position,” says Meredith Odato, 19, a sophomore at Cornell University who graduated with Jason from West Perry High School in 2003.

“I would have liked to spend a lot more time with him but I feel I had his whole life in two weeks this summer” when he had leave, Meredith says. “That was enough because there was so much happiness — life was so full.”

Still, she knows she’s going to miss the calls from Iraq that always came in the early morning because around noon in Iraq was when Jason could use a phone. And it will feel odd not to write a letter to him every day. She made sure each one got in the mail the same day she wrote it so he would get them in sequence.

No second trip

There won’t be a second trip to Rillo’s, an Italian restaurant in Carlisle, as Jason had wanted, Meredith says, but then, she had made their first visit last summer one to remember.

“It was our first real date,” she says, although the two had been friends in high school. “I made the reservations. Jason didn’t know we were going there. He got to my house and we were all dressed up. I blindfolded him. He thought that was crazy, but he said, ‘OK. I’ll do it for you.’

“I drove my mom’s car and played Italian music — Frank Sinatra — and made him wait in the car. I ran in and put rose petals on the table and sparkling grape juice in a bottle on the table to make it special. Then I went out and got him. He thought that was amazing. Nobody had ever done anything so nice for him.

“So he had wanted to go to Rillo’s in full uniform” when he got back, Meredith says.

Pride, honor to serve

The couple had never talked about his reasons for joining the Marines, Meredith says. They didn’t need to. “I wanted to go into the service out of high school,” she says, although she enrolled in college instead.

“I understood the honor and pride one would have from serving in the military — so much pride in protecting our freedom.”

Jason’s parents understand that pride, too.

“I have the two best sons anybody could ever ask for. I’m proud of both of them,” says Gary, who was ready to serve in Vietnam, but was never drafted. “Jason made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m proud of everything they’ve ever done and ever will do.”

When Adam and Jason began talking about joining the service, Gary told them both, “I don’t care what your decision is, I’ll back you 100 percent. There wouldn’t have been anything I could have said or done that would change their minds,” he adds.

Adam served four years, stationed at Camp Lejeune, N.C., with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines after graduation from West Perry in 2001.

Jason joined his brother there in January after a 13-week boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. Although Jason was with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, the brothers saw each other at Lejeune, Connie says.

‘He had faith...’

Jason was known for saying his prayers before a meal in the mess hall, regardless of the kidding he took for it.

“He had faith like you wouldn’t believe,” Connie says.

And “Jason was one that left an impression on everyone. He lit up a room,” his mother adds.

Meredith recalls, “He knew everything about a person after talking to them for five minutes. He never had a mean thought about anyone or anything.”

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