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Father of Edmond soldier watched fungal infection kill his son

An Edmond soldier who was wounded a month earlier in Afghanistan died last week from a fungal infection, his father said.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: September 27, 2013 at 6:25 pm •  Published: September 28, 2013

/articleid/3887506/1/pictures/2221692">Photo - Spc. James T. Wickliffchacin, 22, of Edmond, Okla., died Sept. 20 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol during combat operations in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan on Aug. 12. SPC Wickliffchacin, 3rd Infantry Division, was awarded the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal with Valor posthumously. Photo provided by the U.S. Army
Spc. James T. Wickliffchacin, 22, of Edmond, Okla., died Sept. 20 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol during combat operations in Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan on Aug. 12. SPC Wickliffchacin, 3rd Infantry Division, was awarded the Purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal with Valor posthumously. Photo provided by the U.S. Army

According to the article, doctors found bomb attacks caused contamination of wounds leading to fungal infections in 3.5 percent of cases in 2010, with at least three deaths. In 80 percent of fungal infection cases, the wounded soldier had a leg amputated. Nearly all cases required large blood transfusions.

Wickliff is a U.S. citizen who raised his family in Venezuela. Wickliffchacin was born in Venezuela but was an American citizen. The family moved to Oklahoma seven years ago to escape the rule of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Wickliff said his son was smart. He was on pace to graduate from high school early in Venezuela, but was set back when the family moved to the U.S. because he did not speak English well. He graduated at 18 from Edmond Santa Fe High School.

“He had a good future,” Wickliff said. “He had all the scores to go to whatever college he wanted.”

But Wickliffchacin wanted to join the Army. Friends said he was proud of his service even before he graduated from high school.

Wickliff said he is writing letters to the state's congressional delegation to alert them to the fungal infection problem, hoping it gets more attention and more funding can be put toward new treatments.

“For my son, it's too late,” he said. “But I want to do something. We have to save these soldiers.”

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