Fight over the burial of an Oklahoma soldier killed in Iraq

Thursday, March 3rd 2005, 6:45 am
By: News On 6

The debate continues over where to bury a soldier from Claremore who was killed in Iraq.

The soldier's divorced parents are at odds over where to send the body of Jason Hendrix, Oklahoma or California. News on 6 anchor Craig Day is following the story and says the News on 6 first told you about the Hendrix family of Claremore last week, they thought the matter was settled.

Their attorney said the military had decided to send Jason Hendrix's body back to Oklahoma. But since our first report, there has been more legal maneuvering and now more uncertainty. It's been two weeks since Russ Hendrix was notified his son Jason had died in Iraq and the family is still uncertain where Jason will be laid to rest.

Jason’s father Russ Hendrix: "I don't see how the military can let him sit around that long with any kind of conscience."

Hendrix's divorced parents disagree over where their son should be buried. Russ Hendrix says Oklahoma. His ex-wife says California.

The body of Army Staff Sergeant Hendrix was sent to the mortuary in Santa Cruz, County California, but the Army ordered the body be sent to Oklahoma. Jason's father also was named administrator of his son's estate by a Rogers County judge last week. But now a judge in California issued a restraining order blocking Hendrix's father from taking possession of the body. That essentially puts everything on hold again.

Russ Hendrix says the family originally made a decision together to bury Jason in Oklahoma, next to his grandfather, a US Marine. "I can't come up with a reason why the, of why the original agreement by the family, as a family, as a whole family has been changed, modified two or three times now."

Now that the California judge has issued a stay in the case, it could be quite some time before the issue is cleared up, possibly until a March 23rd hearing. "If I can, the boy is coming back to Oklahoma."

An offer is on the table to have two memorial services, one in Oklahoma and another in California and then bury Jason at Arlington National Cemetery. But Jason's father says his son's wishes were to return to Oklahoma.

Meanwhile family members from across the country are waiting on word about travel arrangements to attend Jason's funeral.