Green Beret’s Georgia family seeks answers after deadly ambush in Niger

11:14 a.m. Friday, Oct. 27, 2017 AJC Homepage
HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Ardie Wright glances at a stack of sympathy cards. He hasn’t had time to open them yet. People from across the country – neighbors, friends, even strangers – are writing to offer their condolences about the death of his son, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright. “He was like John Wayne, OK?” Ardie said of his son. “When he walked through the door with his sparkling blue eyes – and his smile – he just lit the room up." HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Santa Claus, Ga. — Ardie Wright is sitting alone at his kitchen table, reminiscing about his son Dustin, the one he calls “a bright light in a dark room.” The shades are pulled down and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright is gone, so a lonely darkness fills the Georgia home. 

Topping 6 feet and 230 pounds, Dustin Wright was a giant, though he had a tender heart with a soft spot for Disney movies. A former offensive lineman for the Toombs County High School football team, he joined the U.S. Army, swiftly rose through the ranks and made it into the Special Forces as a barrel-chested Green Beret. 

“He was like John Wayne, OK?” Ardie Wright said of his son, his voice threaded with grief. “When he walked through the door with his sparkling blue eyes — and his smile — he just lit the room up. Everybody knew who Dustin was. And everybody liked Dustin.”

Wright’s 29-year-old son was among the four U.S. troops who were killed during the highly publicized Oct. 4 ambush in Niger. While Wright and his family are resisting getting pulled further into the controversy swirling around President Donald Trump’s feud with the widow of one of the other slain soldiers, they are craving more information about what happened in Niger. The Pentagon has started an investigation and is vowing to share what it finds with them.

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