Darron Lee Wright (22 May 1968 – 23 September 2013) was a highly decorated colonel in the United States Army. He served three tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Wright was born in Dallas but grew up in Mesquite, Texas, where he graduated from West Mesquite High School and joined the National Guard. He then attended Kemper Military College in Booneville Missouri, earning an associate degree and commission as a Second Lieutenant in 1988. In 1991, Wright earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of North Texas.
Later that year, Wright moved to his fist assignment where he served as a rifle platoon leader, company executive officer, and company commander with the 3rd Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 7th Infantry Division (Light), at Fort Ord, California. After a short tour in the Republic of Korea he was assigned as a company commander with 3rd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. After his company commander time, he served as a long-range surveillance detachment commander with 313th Military Intelligence Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was at Bragg from 1996 to 2000.
From 2000 to 2004, Wright served as the chief of operations for 7th Infantry Division and as battalion operations officer for 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 4th infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wright was next assigned as brigade executive officer with 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2005 to 2006. In 2007 he was assigned as battalion commander for 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, at the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana. From 2009 to 2013, Wright was assigned as deputy brigade commander for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, with whom he deployed to Iraq from 2009 to 2010, and later as operations officer for the 7th Infantry Division and I Corps, Fort Lewis, Washington. Despite the high operational tempo of his previous 25 years of service Wright actively sought out challenging assignments that would put him directly in combat. He secured the position of assistant chief of staff for the 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, which was already training to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Wrights arrived and settled into their new assignment in August 2013, eager and excited for another adventure. On 23 September 2013, tragedy struck and COL Wright died during a training accident at the age of 45. After serving his country for 26 years and after 37 months deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, COL Darron Lee Wright was laid to rest on 2 October 2013 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.
Colonel Wright is survived by his wife, Wendy, of Canadian, Texas; two sons, Dillon, a student at Virginia Military Institute, and Kyle of Canadian, Texas; a daughter, Chloe, of Renton, Washington; his mother Kathy Rice and step-father Harvey Rice of Mesquite; his brother Larron Wright, of Mesquite, Texas, and sister, Michelle Wentz, of Mansfield, Texas.
COL Wright’s decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit (2nd award), Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Bronze Star Medal (3rd award), Meritorious Service Medal (6th award), Army Commendation Medal (4th award), Army Achievement Medal (3rd Award), Presidential Unit Citation Award; Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), Iraqi Campaign Medal (with three campaign stars), Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (4th award), Air Assault Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Ranger Tab, and Senior Parachutist Badge. He is also a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award.
Wright was not only a versatile infantryman; he was also an accomplished scholar. He wrote numerous professional articles, authored the book “Iraq Full Circle: From Shock and Awe to the Last Combat Patrol in Baghdad and Beyond,” and earned a Master’s degree in Strategic Studies and National Security Decision Making from the United States Naval War College.
Darron L. Wright was a larger than life Soldier’s Soldier. He was a physically imposing, direct, and skilled warrior. He was also witty, hilarious, generous, kind, and wholly consumed with love for his family. He will certainly be missed but he will never be forgotten. His intellectual curiosity, boundless optimism, and untiring work ethic, allowed him to reach heights he could only dream of as a young boy growing up in Mesquite, Texas. It is in this spirit that the Darron L. Wright Award was created, to inspire fellow military writers and poets to aspire to become better and more accomplished at their craft and at telling their story.
“May we never forget those past and present who answered the call to defend us and provide the blanket of freedom we sleep under every night.”- Colonel Darron L. Wright