On a wintry day at Bagram Air Field in northwestern Afghanistan about 30 miles from the capital city of Kabul, Spc. Jason Disney Sr. began the day like those before.
As an Army soldier, the Fallon grad deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom two months after terrorists struck the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, by ramming two passenger jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, another jet into the Pentagon and a fourth into a field in western Pennsylvania. Thousands of people died on that day.
As a wheeled vehicle repairer and welder with the 7th Transportation Battalion’s 58th Maintenance Company (GS)/530th Supply and Service Battalion at Fort Bragg, N.C., Disney enjoyed the Army and the challenges it presented. Disney and his fellow soldiers, though, were aware of the dangers from enemies bent on destroying the United States.
Disney, though, never finished his deployment to Afghanistan. On Feb. 13, 2002, the 1999 Churchill County High School graduate died in a welding accident as battalion soldiers ensured improvements were made at Bagram Air Field before more soldiers arrived at the base.
The main road, in honor of Disney at Bagram was named after him.
A ceremony at the U.S. Army Ordnance School at Fort Lee, Va., on Wednesday recognized Disney as the first ordnance soldier to die during the Global War on Terrorism by dedicating a conference room after him.
The day of the ceremony was also fitting because of its proximity of the 14th anniversary of 9/11.
Attending the ceremony were Karla Wade, Disney’s mother, and Jason Disney Jr., his son, who cut the ribbon to dedicate the conference room along with Brig. Gen. Kurt Ryan, chief of Ordnance and Ordnance School commandant and Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Morris, Ordnance School regimental command sergeant major.
According to Jennifer S. Gunn, public affairs director at Combined Arms Support Command (CASCOM), the conference room will have several photos and other displays associated with Disney.
“The conference room will have personal pictures of Spc. Jason A. Disney Sr. on the wall and a glass display case containing a picture of Spc. Disney working in his full protective gear while performing welding functions,” she said. “It will also include a replica of all the complete gear affixed to a mannequin.”
Wednesday brought back memories for Sgt. Major Patricio Cardona, who was a staff sergeant and supervisor at the time.
“Spc. Jason A. Disney was an extraordinary young man,” Cardona said.” He was a very good soldier. He showed very early traits of the attitude that would take him through an entire career.”
Cardona said the Fallon soldier was adamant in pursuing and completing a mission and possessing an excellent work ethic. He observed Disney’s work ethic in person and strongly felt the young soldier brought his welding skill set to Bagram. Although Disney showed great skill with his hands, Cardona said Disney was adaptive.
“He was a critical thinker and thought outside the box for problem solving in his trade,” Cardona added.
Cardona said the ceremony was an honor for him in recognizing a fallen warrior.
Wade said she and her family are touched by Cardona’s concern and his drive to honor Disney, both as a soldier and a friend.
“We didn’t know, but Sgt. Maj. Cardona had this thing going on for two years,” she said. “It is something he wanted to do because Jason was one of his soldiers.”
Wade said a retired soldier who served with her son attended the ceremony, and two sergeants from Fort Bragg traveled to Virginia to pay their respects.
“I met so many people who cared,” Wade said.
Cardona, though, vividly remembers the optimism Disney brought to others.
“His smile brightened up everyone,” he said.
In addition to Wednesday’s dedication, Disney’s duty to his country was recognized several years ago at a city of Fallon 9/11 ceremony in which a monument was unveiled with Disney’s name, the only hometown serviceman or woman who died in the line of duty in either Iraq or Afghanistan.