A monument dedicated to the memory of fallen soldier Army Sgt. Jason C. Denfrund and all service men and women from the village of Cattaraugus was unveiled Saturday at the Liberty Park Cemetery. A $6,000 state grant for the memorial was secured by Senator Catharine Young.
Sgt. Denfrund, who grew up in Cattaraugus, was killed Christmas Day 2006 when a roadside bomb exploded while he and his unit were on patrol south of Baghdad. It was Sgt. Denfrund's second tour of duty in Iraq. His first began in 2004, during which he received the Purple Heart, and he returned to the embattled nation in August. He had also served in Kosovo.
The son of Diane and Randy Wienk, he fought with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team — the ''Commandos'' — of the 10th Mountain Division, a specialized light infantry division of the U.S. Army trained at fighting in harsh climates and based at Fort Drum, N.Y.
The Commandos of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team were celebrated for defending polling sites during the 2004 Iraqi elections, allowing no polling places to be bombed.
"Sgt. Denfrund's sacrifice for our Country should be remembered and honored. The entire community mourned his death last year by tying yellow ribbons around the village. Now we have a lasting tribute to his bravery," Sen. Young said.
"His grandma told me that Jason truly believed in his mission and was proud to be in the Army. He always was smiling and helpful. Sgt. Denfrund also is remembered for his high school days, especially as a football player. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. He will never be forgotten," Sen. Young added.
"It is fitting that the monument was unveiled on Veteran’s Day weekend, when we honor all of our courageous men and women who have served our Country. The color guard of area veterans who stood at attention during the ceremony was a reminder of all those who have protected our freedom. We also keep all of our military currently in harm’s way in our thoughts," Sen. Young said.
Sgt. Jason Denfrund was 24 years old when he was killed. He left a wife, a stepdaughter and an infant son.