Yesterday, one of my 1st cousins, Jantzen Murrell Frazier, a US Army veteran who had survived two tours in Iraq, was killed while responding to a fire. He is survived by his wife, Leslie and four children, and his parents, Murrell and Debbie Frazier, and two grandmothers.
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I was a little over eight years older than Jantzen, and by the time he has an adult I had a family and we seldom talked, except for family get-togethers. I recall after he joined the Army that he had told his parents he was going to be stationed in Germany. As an only son, he knew how much they would worry if they really knew he was on his way to Iraq. During his two tours, he stared death in the face on multiple occasions. The articles below will attest to his actions in combat.
In the times that I talked with him after his return from combat, the greatest takeaway I had was his deep desire to continue serving. he was involved in several wounded warrior events. he talked proudly of his work with the marshals. I never really did understand what he was doing for them. I think his injuries held him back from the things he so greatly longed to do. Until he died yesterday, I didn’t even know he’d gotten involved with the Oden Ridge VFD. Jantzen was my maternal cousin, and I had paternal cousins who lived in the area. I live roughly an hour away, so I haven’t been to Oden Ridge to visit my family in years. My wife has cousins out there we see about once a year, so I’ve driven by where Jantzen had recently moved to several times over the years. I told him when he bought the house that he would be living a few doors down from my great-aunt Sharon. I’m a bit sad that I never had a chance to introduce him to them. I hope the community will remember with honor the new guy who had only lived there a few months, but lost his life in their service.
Another thing I know jantzen was proud of was his gunsmithing. On multiple occasions he would talk of firearms he was working on for others, and he was proud of his own collection. I remember one story of when he lived in Hartselle and was up late one night cleaning his AR-15. Someone was in his garage attempting petty larceny, unaware of the armed combat vet just inside the house. Needless to say, the miscreant probably needed to change his pants after he escaped.
An account of Jantzen’s life as documented on the Internet:
More at ease in his jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap than his Army fatigues, Jantzen Frazier said the best parts of his brief visit home to Hartselle have been the food, his family, and the relief from the intense heat of the Iraqi desert.
U.S. Army Pfc. Jantzen Frazier, 19, of Hartselle has served with the 127th Aviation Support Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq since last December, where he repaired a variety of military vehicles.
Sgt. Jantzen Frazier, was wounded in Iraq in December while on patrol in Taji, a town south of Baghdad. His father, Murrell Frazier, said an improvised explosive device exploded near his son’s vehicle. Shrapnel struck their son’s lower body.
Murrell Frazier said it took 234 stitches to close the wounds. Jantzen Frazier received a Purple Heart and is back on patrol in Iraq.
The Finis J. Self Chapter 2122 Order of the Purple Heart honored Frazier and Cpl. Jon-Erik Loney on Tuesday morning by placing their names on the Purple Heart Memorial in Hartselle.
“They are two of the youngest soldiers on the memorial,” Chapter Commander James Shaffran said. (Decatur Daily, 11 January 2007, Area warriors honored
One memory that I remember from Iraq was kinda heart pounding at first then funny later on. It was when my platoon was taking the col and Csm out on patrol with us and the csm’s truck got hit by an ied. No one was injured but I saw the trigger man and started shooting the 240b then over the radio the col started yelling cease fire cease fire do you have pid. I was so pissed I keyed the mic and said I got fing pid … the whole time my finger never let go of the trigger. The only response I got back was well then give em hell and come see me when we get back to the fob. It wasn’t until I got back that I found out who I was yelling at. … This is why the col shouldn’t go out the gate with infantry because it’s a scouts job to do it lol. (Jantzen Frazier, 15 August 2011, One special Memory about your tour)
Zack Williams, an injured 304-pound rookie offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers, plays a violent sport.
Jantzen Frazier of Hartsell, Ala., is an Iraq War veteran, a recipient of seven Purple Heart medals. In his last battle in 2007, he was wounded six times and broke his back in three places after he was blown out of a Humvee.The two met Tuesday when the wounded veteran asked the NFL rookie for his autograph at Bank of America Stadium during a real-time video game contest organized by the nonprofit Pro vs. GI Joe organization and the Panthers.
“It shows us that people care,” said George Bullem, a captain in the N.C. Army National Guard.
That’s what Frazier, 27, needed after his injuries forced him to leave the Army.
They came five days after he’d reenlisted “indefinitely.” He was on a 15-man patrol in three Humvees when a dump truck with 23,000 pounds of explosives rammed the convoy.
The blast destroyed two Humvees, and blew Frazier’s vehicle on its side, throwing Frazier out. Thirteen of his comrades died.
He was married and his first of four daughters had been born while he was in Iraq.
Still, he would have gone back.
“When you go into the military, you have a second family,” Frazier said. Readjustment was hard. Loud noises sent him to the ground. When he drove under a bridge, he’d change lanes so no one above would drop a bomb on him.
“I didn’t want to go out of the house,” he said.
Then he found the Pro vs. GI Joe organization, which also includes rehabilitation events.
Now he gets paid to go on the road with the group, helping set up and tear down events – and talking to recently wounded veterans.
“I feel I’m starting to come out of my shell,” Frazier said. “My family still doesn’t know what I did over there.
“But this has helped – I’m starting to feel alive again.” (Charlotte Observer, 4 November 2011, Pro Vs Joe News)
On Oct. 12, 2007, while on a patrol convoy in Taji in a command support unit with the 1st Cavalry Division, Frazier was manning his Humvee’s turret when his unit was attacked by insurgents.
Frazier was shot in the head. Seconds later, a second bullet ricocheted off his helmet and tore into his side. The impact knocked him unconscious and shattered several vertebras. Miraculously, his Kevlar helmet proved to be the young Soldier’s best weapon, stopping the quarter-size bullet millimeters from penetrating his brain.
Although he doesn’t remember much from that day — his memory muddled by one too many concussions – the helmet the young man has tucked away in a hall closet is his reminder of how he cheated death.
“That helmet saved my life,” the married father of two young girls said, adding that he also has the bullet that almost ended his life.
Call it being at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time, Frazier had already survived numerous firefights, roadside bombs and sniper attacks during his two tours in Iraq. He was injured twice during his 2003-2004 tour, and at least three times during his 2006-2007 tour. But it was the Oct. 12, 2007, attack that jerked him from the battlefield and on to a medical evacuation flight first to Germany and then Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he spent several month recovering from severe back injuries and a swollen brain. In February 2008, he transferred to Fort Hood to what is now the Warrior Transition Brigade.
Frazier loves the Army and would gladly trade all of his Purple Hearts infor one more fight. He admits it will be difficult wearing civilian clothes instead of his uniform and size 13 boots on his nearly six-foot frame, but more importantly, he will miss “soldiering,” which is why the Warrior Games were so important to him. When he was in Colorado Springs, he was back to soldiering, marrying his rifle skills to Army mission. (Gloria Montgomery, 17 June 2010, Peck Funeral Home online Guest Book)
Jantzen Murrell Frazier, 28, was headed south on Wilson Mountain Road to put out a fire at a neighbor’s house when the engine ran off the road and flipped, knocking down a utility pole, about 3 p.m., authorities said.
Frazier, the only person aboard, was killed instantly by blunt force trauma to the head, Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said.
Oden Ridge Fire Chief Jeff Duffey said Frazier, a medically retired soldier and part-time U.S. marshal, was an “amazing guy.” (Decatur Daily, 17 October 2013, Firefighter killed in crash: Volunteer was decorated soldier, ‘amazing guy’)