During his time in office, Congressman Chet Edwards worked hard to see to the needs of American veterans and their families. One of his most lauded acts was the creation of the Machine Gunnery Sgt. John David Fry Scholarship, which grants the GI Bill college tuition benefits of soldiers killed on active to their children.
John D. Fry, a native of Lorena, Texas, was married to Malia Fry and father to three children. He was a shy, quiet man who was said to often be deep in thought by those who knew him. His family said he had no compunctions about returning to Iraq in 2005 and served with his children’s freedom in mind. By 2006, he had been assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion and trained as an explosives technician. He was killed by an improvised explosive device on March 8, 2006 – only seven days before he was due to return home.
Sergeant Fry disarmed 73 bombs during his 6-month stint in Iraq, including one the biggest car bombs ever found in Falluja. At one of these incidents, he rescued a young Iraqi boy from danger by playing hide-and-seek with him. At another, Fry arrived at an Iraqi home to find a bomb strapped to a mentally disabled Iraqi boy who had beaten and chained to a wall. Fry disarmed this bomb and saved the boy’s life.
In late 2005, Fry’s hand was injured during bomb disposal – an injury that could have been his ticket out of Iraq. Instead, he refused to leave and continued working for seven more hours to finish disarming an explosive. The military wanted to give him the Bronze Star for this injury, but he refused the accolade, stating that he was only doing his job and serving his country. It was this same drive to serve that led him to volunteer for the job that took his life. In the Al Anbar province, Sgt. Fry disarmed three bombs but succumbed to a hidden fourth – a booby trap beneath the third. A team stayed with his body for hours, fending off enemy fire until he could be brought home safely.
By the time of his death, more than 40% of all casualties sustained by American forces in Iraq were from improvised explosive devices. Sgt. Fry’s work save the lives of countless soldiers and civilians. Today, we remember the life of Sgt. Fry and the lives of all veterans who have fought and served in America’s military forces.