|Respected soldier ‘was there for everybody’
The Associated Press
Daniel Aureli, the brother of Albert R. Jex’s mother, Cathleen MacFarlane, recalled a man skillful with a hammer and wrench.
“When it seemed like things weren’t going to get fixed, Albert always said, ‘Putty and paint makes it what it ain’t,’” Aureli recalled.
Jex, 23, of Phoenix, was killed Feb. 9 when a suicide car bomber blew up his vehicle at a police checkpoint in Mosul. He was assigned to Fort Hood
“Specialist Jex was a tremendous soldier. Only the best of the best serve on teams like the Personal Security Team, and that was Albert: all-American, the best of the best,” Brig. Gen. Thomas Cole said.
He was named after his great-uncle Albert Jex, who was killed while in the service of his country, and then was nicknamed “Albie” after a video game puppet.
Jex would make a joke in the most tense moments and make everyone around him feel more at ease. “He was a sweetheart,” said classmate Cassandra Trautwein. “He was there for everybody. He really was. It didn’t matter who you were, what your social, political goal was, he was there for you. He accepted everybody.”
He also is survived by his wife, Monica.
|From Lockport Union-Sun & Journal lockportjournal.com
Family wants bridge named after fallen soldier
By Britney Milazzo
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
LOCKPORT — United States Army Spc. Albert R. Jex’s family is pushing for the Town and City of Lockport to name a bridge and Veteran Affairs Clinic after Lockport’s only fallen soldier from the war in Iraq.
But Lockport City Mayor Mike Tucker said he is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to making a decision.
“I’ve taken this proposal into consideration, but when you get an idea like this, how do you properly honor everyone? Albert is not the only Lockportian who gave his life in the line of duty. We have limited streets and bridges, and hundreds who gave their life” in wars over time, Tucker said. “Every soldier’s death is important, so who’s more significant than the other?”
He approached members of the Common Council with the request Wednesday night, saying a decision to rename public property ultimately rests with them.
Aldermen echoed his sentiments about the propriety — and the risks — of the city giving more “honor” to one fallen native over the rest.
“What do we do with the next request?” for renaming of public property, Alderman at Large Joseph Kibler asked. “How could we say yes to one and no to another?”
“The service (Jex) gave representing the country, representing the city, is appreciated — but a lot of different people could be deserving for service to the city, and not necessarily military service,” Fifth Ward Alderman Kenneth Genewick said.
Jex’s mother, Cathy MacFarlane, is pushing hard for the renaming of public property. She insists naming the landmarks in memory of her son isn’t just for Jex, it’s in memory of all local fallen soldiers.
“He’ll never be forgotten by anyone if this project is accepted. I think it will really represent all our fallen heroes. It will be a way to honor all veterans too,” MacFarlane said. “It’s not just about (Albert), it will be for anyone who’s lost their life fighting for our country and (Albert) has a special connection to Lockport. He’s not only my son, but Lockport’s son.”
Jex’s, who would have been 26, lost his life Feb. 9, 2009 after he was caught in a suicide bombing in Mosul, Iraq.
He grew up on Amelia Street, adjacent to the bridge that crosses the Erie Canal at Stevens and High streets — the location of the bridge MacFarlane hopes to be named after her son being called, the Spc. Albert R. Jex Bridge. After Jex graduated high school, he left for Arizona to find better jobs where he used his carpentry experience in the Phoenix housing market, but after the housing market flattened, he decided to enter the Army.
And MacFarlane said her fight to get her son’s name in the community was strengthen by a national group she belongs to called Gold Star Mom’s — an organization of mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the service.
“I asked other moms what they did to get landmarks names for their sons and daughters, and they encouraged me to continue to keep (Albert’s) memory alive by doing this,” MacFarlane said.
MacFarlane also said she sent letters to political figures around the state and country seeking support in hopes they can help the process.
So far, Congressman Chris Lee is the only one to respond in a group that includes Sens. Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, George Maziarz, and John McCain, of Arizona, and Town Supervisor Marc Smith. MacFarlane said her son signed up for the Army while he was living in Phoenix, so she thought it was appropriate to contact McCain.
“Chris Lee’s office responded to us and gave us some information on the chains of command we’ll have to go through,” MacFarlane said. “Other than that, I guess it’s just a waiting game.”
In addition, local supporters of this proposal have also sent letters to Tucker attempting to convince him to accept this project.
“In the city that (Albert) was raised in, there is a bridge that has no name. I feel that this would be a tribute to him as well as his family to name this bridge after all that Spc. Jex did for his country and our freedom,” Karen Bahit wrote in a letter to Tucker. “He gave the ultimate — his life — for his country and the least you could do is to name this bridge in honor of him. My child is in the military, and God forbid something happen to him, I would except nothing less than this to honor him.”
This project began for MacFarlane last Memorial Day, but she just presented the idea in a formal letter to Tucker on Monday.
Tucker said within the last couple days, he had received several letters from local supporters hoping to make this idea a reality.
“I’ve received many letters (from Albert’s family and friends). We’ve been getting a strong response around the community about this issue,” Tucker said. “Her son sacrificed it all.”
If the bridge project gets passed, any memorial set up in his honor will be funded by the City of Lockport since it is City owned, Tucker said. But as for getting the Lockport VA Outpatient Clinic on Snyder Drive, Town of Lockport, named for Jex, that is a Federal matter.
No one was available to comment from the Clinic on Wednesday on the memorial issue.