EDMOND — Spc. James T. Wickliffchacin, a native of Venezuela, was proud to live and serve the United States, his art teacher remembered Wednesday.
Wickliffchacin died Friday at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, from injuries he suffered Aug. 12 in a roadside bomb attack in Pul-e-Alam, Afghanistan, the U.S. Defense Department reported.
Wickliffchacin graduated from Edmond Santa Fe High School in 2010.
“He was a good student,” said James Copeland, his art teacher at Santa Fe. “He came here with his parents. He felt very fortunate to be in the United States.”
Copeland remembered some students one day were talking about favoring communism and Wickliffchacin was quick to tell them they didn't know what they were talking about.
“James was always out front,” Copeland said. “I'm sure he was in the battlefield. He was fearless.”
Jason Brown, principal at Santa Fe during Wickliffchacin's junior and senior years, remembered him as being proud that he was going to serve in the military.
“He was excited he was going in the military,” said Brown, now the assistant superintendent for Norman Public Schools. “He purposefully and actively prepared. He wanted to go serve his country”
Wickliffchacin went to Brown to see if the principal intended to recognize those who were going into the military. The next year at graduation, Brown said, they asked those who had been and those who were going into the military to stand.
“I purposefully looked for James, and I remember he was smiling ear to ear,” Brown said. “He physically and mentally prepared. It was his choice and he was proud.”
Brown described Wickliffchacin as a respectful student, who was outgoing, but not loud.
“I remember him as a polite and upstanding young man,” Brown said.
Wickliffchacin took several art classes from Copeland and liked hanging out in the art department.
Copeland had him in introduction to drawing and he later did some 3-D work, clay and papier-mache sculptures.