Libby Soldier Who Died in Training Accident Remembered

By Beacon Staff

LIBBY – A 29-year-old Army sergeant killed during a training accident off the Virginia coast was remembered in Libby on Monday as a passionate man and fine soldier.

More than 100 people gathered at the funeral of Staff Sgt. James R. Stright, who died Oct. 23 when a helicopter crashed on the Navy ship Arctic as he and others were rappelling down a rope to the ship’s deck. Several other soldiers were injured in the accident.

Military officials said the exercise was practice in boarding, searching and seizing ships that might be under control of pirates or terrorists.

Stright’s father, retired Master Sgt. Bob Stright, said after the accident that his son was “fine soldier” and “the elite of the elite.”

And on Monday, Chaplain Cary Snelling said the younger Stright “earned his rank” and “he didn’t just wear it.”

Pastor Phil Alspaw remembered the soldier for his love of cooking and learning, as well as for his fondness of his faithful German shepherd Lucia.

Stright, who joined the Army out of Libby High School in 1998, was a soldier in C Company, 3rd Battalion of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. He was headquartered at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., and was the crew chief aboard the helicopter that crashed.

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