TOOMBS CO., GA (WTOC) - The funeral for Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright filled the football stadium of his high school, the cemetery where he was buried, and miles of roadway and intersections in between. Family members and soldiers from his Green Beret unit filled the seats on the football field of Toombs County High's Booster Stadium. A thousand more friends, classmates, and supporters filled the stands.
Wright and three other Green Berets were killed in a terrorist attack in Niger, Africa.
Pastor Efton Green, a chaplain for the Toombs County High Bulldogs, spoke of Dustin's commitment and sacrifice when it came to athletics and putting his team and teammates first.
"He spent his early years on the scout team. He would often leave the field bloody and sore, but he made sure the teammates who would play on Friday night were ready for what they would face," he said.
One of Wright's high school coaches, Brian Fitzgerald, spoke during the funeral about Wright's selflessness and team spirit in school and how it translated to his life off the football and baseball field. He recalled making the difficult decision to bring Wright out of a game to replace him with a different pitcher to match up against the other team's lineup.
"I told him I hated to pull him," Fitzgerald said. "He put his hands on my shoulders and told me it was okay and he understood. It was another testament to his sacrifice and putting the team and other people ahead of himself."
Wright's brother Will, himself a veteran, spoke of Dustin's impact on their family, their community, and those with whom he served.
"I knew him better than anybody in this world. Yet, these guys ( fellow soldiers) are telling me things I didn't know. We're getting those pieces of Dustin back to us one by one."
Soldiers stood on the field and at the cemetery to deliver a 21-gun salute. Nearly 100 motorcycle riders, from local clubs or the Patriot Guard Riders, lined the field and circled the graveside holding flags and standing at attention. A U.S. Army Honor Guard served as pallbearers and folded the casket flag and presented it to Wright's family.