“I told him I would be scared and proud all at the same time. That's the kind of thing Jered instilled in the boys. He showed them that it was honorable to serve your country,” Edwards said.
“He was such a good example for the boys. He was disciplined, but he was fun,” she said.
Ewy and Vicari were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. Ewy's company is based in Vinita; Vicari's in Tulsa.
They are the first two Oklahoma National Guard soldiers killed in action since the 45th left for Afghanistan in June.
“This loss of life has shaken every member of the Oklahoma National Guard to their core,” said Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, adjutant general for Oklahoma, in a news release.
“We have lost two very brave men who once raised their hands and took an oath to defend our nation. They courageously gave everything they had to ensure our freedom and safety and their sacrifice will not be forgotten.”
“Our casualty assistance teams are currently with the families of our fallen soldiers,” Deering said. “Our hearts, prayers and support go out to their families and everyone else who has been affected by this tragedy.”
Ewy and Vicari are the sixth and seventh Oklahoma National Guard soldiers killed since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, said Lt. Col. Max Moss, guard spokesman. Four were killed in Iraq and now three have died in Afghanistan, Moss said.
Raised in Indiana
According to the Lowell, Ind., Post-Tribune, Vicari grew up in Lowell — about 60 miles southeast of Chicago — and graduated in 2008 from Lowell High School, his mother told the newspaper.
Vicari's wife, Holly, told the paper her husband was headed back to base when the bomb detonated.
“His personality could light up any room,” she said, calling her husband “an amazing guy.”
They were married Sept. 25 and lived in Broken Arrow, according to the Post-Tribune.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Wachtendorf, an Oklahoma National Guard member in Afghanistan, said in a letter to his father that a large crowd gathered to send off the soldiers.
“It was literally hundreds of soldiers from all over the base that had stopped everything and chose to attend the ceremony,” Wachtendorf said.
The ceremony was called at 11 p.m. and soldiers were told 10 minutes before the ceremony was to occur, he said.
“We all snapped to attention and, like dominoes, saluted the two fallen soldiers as they passed by in the ambulance on their way to the plane that would take them home for the last time,” Wachtendorf said in the letter.
Wachtendorf's letter was sent to the Tulsa World on Sunday by his father Kurt Wachtendorf.
Col. Joel P. Ward, of Claremore, commander of the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, said in a news release that the two soldiers fought bravely “in defense of our nation and way of life.”
“The thoughts and prayers of all Thunderbirds are with the families of our brothers who lost their lives,” Ward said.
Thunderbirds is the nickname of the unit.