Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veteran's Remains Go to Place of Honor; His Body to Be Buried beside His Wife in Arlington National

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Veteran's Remains Go to Place of Honor; His Body to Be Buried beside His Wife in Arlington National

Article excerpt

Byline: Clifford Davis

As workers dug and pried to exhume the coffin of Spc. 5 Wyley Wright Jr. at Mount Olive Cemetery Monday, family members stood waiting and weeping.

For Phyllis Wright Cameron, it was the first time she'd come this close to seeing her father who will be reburied at Arlington National Cemetery next week.

"I was only 6 months old when he died, so this is really my first introduction to my dad," she said.

Spc. 5 Wright was among the first "advisers" sent to Vietnam in May 1963 as part of the 114th Aviation Company. Having already served in Korea, the Jacksonville native and father of four was two weeks away from coming home.

"He wanted to build a home here, I remember it was going to be a split-level home for the wife of his youth," his oldest daughter, Jackie Wright, said. "He also had plans to open up an aviation repair company."

Those dreams came to an end when his helicopter lost power and crashed into a swamp in the Mekong Delta while escorting Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on a tour of jungle battlefields March 9, 1964.

McNamara saw the whole thing, according to a Jacksonville Journal article published the next day.

"The aircraft crashed into water and unfortunately he and another soldier weren't able to get out," Wright's youngest daughter, Phyllis Wright, said.

Wright was the 117th U.S. service member killed in a war that would eventually claim over 58,000.

In a tragic twist for the children, their mother died on the same day six years later of pancreatic cancer at Fort Benning, Ga.

The children were cared for by a grandmother until Jackie was old enough to care for her younger siblings.

They said the death of their parents was not even spoken of for decades.

At a reunion the family came to Mount Olive Cemetery and found it had changed drastically from how they remembered in 1964.

"I remember I felt very proud being out here," Jackie said. "It was very lush, very green. …

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