Airman killed in Fort Bragg accident 'wanted his life to make a difference'
Timothy Wright had been making final checks on his hiking equipment as he prepared to set off with his brothers for a 10-day backpacking tour through the picturesque hills of Canada.
He had been looking forward to the trip, which he spent a year planning with his older brothers, Aaron and Matthew. But Wright, whose love for the outdoors was surpassed only by his strong faith and love for his family, would never make that trip.
Senior Airman Timothy "Tim" J. Wright, 30, of Pensacola, Florida, died last week after being run over by a Humvee during a unit readiness training exercise at Pope Field.
Wright was hit by the vehicle about 10:45 a.m. Thursday. He was pronounced dead at 11 a.m. at Womack Army Medical Center, Fort Bragg officials said.
Three military officers approached the Pensacola home of Wright's parents, Sylvia and David Wright, to deliver the news. It was something they had always feared, knowing their son twice deployed to Afghanistan.
"I know where he is," Sylvia Wright said Monday night. "He's in heaven, and I'm going to see him again when I go to heaven."
Several members of his unit who witnessed the accident attempted life-saving measures until emergency medical services personnel arrived and took Wright to the hospital, Fort Bragg officials said. An investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.
"We don't know all the details, but we do know the person who was driving the Humvee is just totally devastated," Sylvia Wright said. "We want it to be said that our hearts are ripped apart, but we forgive them. We don't hold any anger or bitterness."
In May, Wright was assigned to Pope's 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron as an aeromedical evacuation technician. Before that, he served at Travis Air Force Base in California.
His path to become a medical technician for the Air Force was somewhat unplanned.
Wright began working as an electrician straight out of high school but grew sick of crawling under houses where he was greeted by snakes and bugs. He spent time installing car stereos and DVD players for electronics stores, but when Circuit City went bankrupt, he knew it was time for a career change.
At first, Wright set out to do electrical work on airplanes. But as he prepared to watch his store close, he informed his recruiter that he wanted the next available spot in the Air Force.
"He scored so high on his test and showed so much leadership that they put him in the medical field," Sylvia Wright said. "We were shocked. But it was God's will because he just rose to the top."
Wright deployed to Bagram Airfield and to Kandahar during his career. Every day he was in Afghanistan, he would send a text message to his mother.
"I'd say, 'Are you OK?' and he'd say, 'Mom, I'm OK. This is what I signed up for, and I'm willing to do it,'" Sylvia Wright said, crying as she remembered the messages.
"He would say, 'Everything's going to be OK,'" she said. "He never complained. He was so proud of what he did. He knew he was helping other people."
His Christianity became a critical part of his life, Sylvia Wright said. It was during his time in Afghanistan when he really opened his eyes to how poverty gripped the local patients he treated, she said.
"A lot of things he was taught growing up came full circle and really began to make an impression on him," she said. "And what a difference God has made in his life."
During his deployment to Kandahar, Wright expressed an interest in becoming an aeromedical evacuation technician, his mother said. The transfer was approved, and he took several specialized courses until he was assigned to Pope.
"We were just very, very proud of him," Sylvia Wright said. "He loved his job. He loved his country. He wanted his life to make a difference to other people."
Wright, who was engaged, had begun saving money to send his soon-to-be stepson to a Christian school.
To honor his memory, his parents have set up a memorial fund through their church in Pensacola. Money collected will go to needy children interested in Christian schooling.
Among his awards, Wright earned four Air Force Achievement Medals for his service. Two medals were for Meritorious Service and Outstanding Achievement when he was stationed at Travis Air Force Base in California.
He earned another Air Force Achievement Medal for his service with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Kandahar. He also earned an Air Force Achievement Medal for Outstanding Achievement for his service with the 455th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron at Bagram Airfield.
"Senior Airman Wright was an outstanding airman and member of our 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron family," said Col. Elizabeth Shaw, the squadron commander.
"He excelled at his job with an intense pride and dedication," she said. "He possessed an incredible strength of character and cultivated deep friendships here at Pope. It was an honor to serve alongside him."