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Memorial Day: Remembering Oklahoma soldiers who died in the past year

Spc. James T. Wickliffchacin, of Edmond, and Spc. Robert Allan Pierce, 20, of Panama, are Oklahomans who fought in Afghanistan.
by Graham Lee Brewer Published: May 26, 2014

Wickliff, who describes his son as his best friend, said watching the videos taught him more than he ever knew about his son and the pride he felt serving in the Army. He said watching them made him love his son even more.

Wickliffchacin spent the better part of his childhood in Venezuela, and even there he felt a strong desire to join the military, said Wickliff. That desire only intensified when the family moved to the U.S.

“He felt very proud, because he would tell me ‘I will enroll in the best army in the world … Here, in this army, I will have the opportunity to make a difference,’” Wickliff said.

Wickliffchacin was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal of Valor.

Wickliff has tried to raise awareness about the fungal infection that killed his son and stays in touch with the families of other soldiers suffering from the same affliction. He said not every case is fatal, and he will continue to do what he can to help them.

“I feel like those soldiers are my sons,” Wickliff said.

In all, two Oklahoma soldiers who fought in Afghanistan died in the last year. Four died the previous year.

Spc. Robert Allan Pierce, 20, of Panama, died June 3 after his unit was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Tsamkani, Afghanistan, according to a Fort Campbell release. Another soldier, 2nd Lt. Justin L. Sisson, 23, of Phoenix, also was killed in the attack.

Attempts to reach Pierce’s family were unsuccessful.

Pierce joined the Army in April 2011, serving in South Korea before arriving at Fort Campbell in August 2012. His Army awards include a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, according to the military's news release.

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by Graham Lee Brewer
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Graham Lee Brewer began his career as a journalist covering Oklahoma's vibrant music scene in 2006. After working as a public radio reporter for KGOU and then Oklahoma Watch, where he covered areas such as immigration and drug addiction, he went...
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“He felt very proud, because he would tell me ‘I will enroll in the best army in the world … Here, in this army, I will have the opportunity to make a difference.’”

Thomas Wickliff

Wickliff’s son, Spc. James T. Wickliffchacin, died Sept. 20.

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