Tara Vreeland, News On 6
MCALESTER, Oklahoma -- The McAlester community is mourning the loss of a fallen hero. Twenty-six-year-old Sergeant Jason McCluskey was killed in Afghanistan last week after insurgents attacked his unit.
Sergeant McCluskey's high school wrestling coach and mentor describe the soldier as quiet and hardworking.
"He was a brawler," said Coach Brent Grilliout, McAlester varsity wrestling coach. "People in the wrestling world would say he's a brawler. A legal brawler. He was tough."
The last time McAlester High School wrestling coach and teacher Brent Grilliout saw Jason McCluskey was during wrestling season.
"Came up to the old gym. There he was like he was ready for practice, except he was in his uniform," the coach said. "He told me that day, he said, ‘I'll take care of conditioning for you.' I said ‘all right.'"
McCluskey graduated from high school in 2004 and in 2006 hung up his wrestling singlet - for army fatigues.
"He was kind of stoic," Coach Grilliout said. "Didn't surprise me at all that he chose the military."
11/9/2010 Related Story: McAlester Soldier Killed In Afghanistan Attack
"He really wanted to make a better life for himself. He wanted to do something with his life that he saw getting into the military as a pathway that he would have to do that," said Joe Brawley, McAlester High School psychologist
School psychologist Joe Brawley saw McCluskey's hard work and determination down at Mike Deek Field.
"He would be down there running. He was getting himself in shape for the military and studying for the ASVAP and he was working in the oil fields to support himself at the same time. So he was a highly motivated young man," Brawley said.
The Department of Defense says on November 4th Sergeant McCluskey was killed when insurgents attacked his unit in Afghanistan.
He was 26 years old.
"He certainly was a credit to his family and our community, and my thoughts are certainly with his family," said Joe Brawley, McAlester school psychologist.
"As his senior quote he put, a James Dean quote: 'Dream as if you will live forever. And live as if you will die today.' I thought that was pretty profound and really represented Jason," said high school wrestling coach Brent Grilliout.