NORMAN — David Wright always wanted to be a Sooner. From his days of growing up in Moore, seeing himself wearing the crimson track uniform with the letters OU plastered on the front was what he dreamt about.
However, even after he made that happen, it would be in a different uniform that Wright would find his true calling. As a member of the U.S. Army he became a leader of men and a hero.
Wright lost his life while serving his country, but the impact he left on his family, former teammates and the soldiers inspired the creation of the David T. Wright II Memorial Scholarship Fund.
“David is our only child,” Michele Wright said of her son. “He was not married, so he was our future. You have to find something to make you go forward. Our goal is to make sure he’s never forgotten, what he did is never forgotten. He only lived 26 years but he did more in 26 years than most people do in their entire lives.”
Saturday First Lt. Wright was posthumously named the Ford Patriot of the Game at Memorial Stadium during the OU game. His parents, Michele and Tim Wright were presented a jersey and plaque in his honor on the four year anniversary of his death.
“We’re very proud,” Michele Wright said. “Not shocked that he received it. But we didn’t know anything about the award. We were very honored and I know he would have been very honored. It (was) bittersweet. The 14th has always been a day of great sadness for us. Now we will have something we can celebrate on that day as well.”
Wright and a member of his platoon were killed on Sept. 14, 2009 when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device in southern Afghanistan. Wright was deployed with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.
Wright was the first former OU student-athlete to be killed in active duty service in either Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“He was a Stryker commander and he was in the lead vehicle,” Michele said. “The Taliban wanted to destroy those vehicles. My son always led from the front. The Taliban let two other convoy vehicles pass, then they detonated an 800 pound IED right under my sons striker. His men said that if would have known he was going to die that day, he would have still put himself in the exact same position. That’s the type of man he was.”
Before Wright became a leader of men in the Army, he was a leader for the Moore High track team. Ben Martin was his coach then.
“We knew he had some talent, but he wasn’t really talented to be honest with you,” Martin said. “The biggest thing I remember about David, he would come to practice and say ‘Coach what do you want me to do today.’ I’d tell him and that’s all that would need to be said. David would go and work and work and work. You had to run him off at the end of the day.”
Wright, who still holds the MHS school record in the 110 high hurdles, began to garner attention from colleges his senior year. But he had his sights set on only one school.
“He was actually offered another scholarship to another school before OU offered,” Michele said. “His father and him took a trip to the other facility. It just didn’t feel right. He said to his father, ‘I just want to go to OU. Why won’t OU offer me a scholarship?’ His dad told him there is plenty of time.”
Tim Wright was correct. The Sooners did come calling and offered him a scholarship to run track in 2002.
“So when it happened, that was his dream,” Michele said. “It was of those things you hope will happen, but realistically, you don’t think it will. When they asked him to come down and offered him a scholarship, it was a handshake and thank you very much. They were absolutely wonderful to him the whole time he was there.”
At OU, he ran the 110-meter hurdles and was a 2004 All- Big 12 honoree.
Wright graduated from Oklahoma in 2006. He then enlisted in the Army, completed basic training and went through Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. before being assigned to Ft. Lewis Wa. with the 5th Stryker Brigade.
“We are so proud of him,” Wright said as she wept. “We love him anyway. When he came home from predeployment leave, I hugged him good-bye at the airport. I told him you don’t need to be a hero. Just do your job. I can guarantee you if he was here today, he would say ‘I’m not a hero. I just did my job.’
That’s the type of person that he is.”
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