Soldier remembered fondly at McAlester funeral
BY MANNY GAMALLO World staff writer
Saturday, November 13, 2010
11/13/10 at 7:28 PM
McALESTER - Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey was eulogized Saturday as a duty-bound soldier who was a protector and defender to all those who knew him.
More than 1,000 people, many holding large American flags, turned out for the funeral of the 26-year-old soldier who was killed in Afghanistan last week.
Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson of Fort Bragg, N.C., where McCluskey was stationed, told 500 mourners inside the First Baptist Church that McCluskey led from the front.
“He did his job and duty, and he did it well,” Anderson said.
He then read testaments from some of McCluskey’s fellow soldiers, who called him the best mentor they ever had - “Tough as a box of nails, but fair.”
Another soldier called McCluskey “the edge of the sword.”
Outside the church, a crowd estimated at more than 1,000 listened to a broadcast of the service.
McCluskey was killed Nov. 4 when insurgents attacked his unit with small-arms fire at Zarghun Shahr in the Mohammad Agha district of Afghanistan.
He was attached to the 27th Engineer Battalion, 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and was in his second deployment to Afghanistan.
McCluskey was born in Stockton, Calif., and lived part of his life there until he moved to McAlester in the mid-1990s. He graduated from McAlester High School in 2005.
McCluskey joined the Army in 2006 because it was what he truly wanted to do, his mother, Delores Oliveras of Lubbock, Texas, said shortly after his death.
“I asked him plenty of times to leave the Army,” Oliveras said then. “But all he would say was, ‘No, Mom, I really love what I do.’”
McCluskey’s awards include the Bronze Star and Purple Heart, both awarded posthumously, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement and Good Conduct medals, plus several other ribbons and badges.
McCluskey leaves behind a son, 4-year-old Landen, who lives with his mother, Cassie Wright, at Coalgate.
He is also survived by his father, Jimmy McCluskey of Stockton, Calif.; stepfather Ray Oliveras of Lubbock; stepfather Charles Stambaugh of Montana; and a half-brother, Joshua Stambaugh of McAlester.
Read more in tomorrow's Tulsa World.
Jeremy LeFlore (from left), Nashoba Million and Darren LeFlore embrace after the burial ceremony of their friend, Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey, at the Tannehill Cemetery on Saturday. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World
Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey