Jason Dene recalled: 'He was a warrior'
By Gordon Dritschilo
Herald Staff | May 30,2008
Terry Deane said his son, Jason Dene, would not have wanted to die in bed.
"He would have rather died, I'm sure, on top of his Humvee with his machine gun in his hand," Deane said Thursday.
The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that Dene, 37, a sergeant first class serving with the 3rd Infantry Division, died during the weekend following a "noncombat related incident."
Dene's mother is Tisa Farrow of Castleton, sister of actress Mia Farrow. His father lives in Akron, Ohio, and Dene's widow and three children live in Fort Stewart, Ga., where his unit is based. Deane said the funeral will be in Colorado, where Mrs. Dene's family lives.
Deane spoke fondly of his son Thursday. A film producer, Deane said he and his son had different spellings to their last names because he added an "a" to his name when union rules forced him to distinguish himself from a performer named Terry Dene.
"Jason was a boy who wanted to be a soldier from the time he grew up," Deane said. "He was constantly playing war games and things like that."
Dene, who grew up in the Rutland area and was listed by the military as being from Castleton, joined the Army shortly after high school. He originally served in an airborne unit, Deane said, but had to transfer out after breaking his ankle in a night jump. He was designated a "master machine gunner" and was assigned for a time to Quantico, Va., where he trained FBI agents in machine gun fire.
"He volunteered for every war there was while he was in, whether it was Haiti, Serbia, Bosnia," Deane said. "He was a terrific father and a great son. He loved the Army. He was a warrior."
Deane said his son suffered from terrible sleep apnea, a disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. Dene finally got a mask to help with the condition, Deane said, but could not use it in Iraq because of the dust there.
"I'm not sure he ever slept very much," Deane said.
Deane said his son also suffered from tinnitus, a ringing in the ears often associated with hearing damage.
"I guess it was pretty stressful for him, but he never complained," Deane said. "I didn't even know he had any of that stuff before his death."
Dene was three weeks away from coming home, Deane said, and was to be transferred to Fort Irwin in California. He would have served 20 years in February.
"He says he was going to retire," Deane said. "I don't know that he would have if he found a base he liked."
Dene served two tours in Iraq, Deane said, training soldiers about to deploy there in between. Deane said his son had "near-misses" with improvised explosive devices during the second tour.
"He's another casualty of war, regardless of whether he died in combat," Deane said. "He thought the war was just and right, but didn't think we were fighting it correctly. He thought we needed more help there."
Contact Gordon Dritschilo at firstname.lastname@example.org.