22-year-old first Fort Lewis soldier killed this year

The family of a 22-year-old Fort Lewis soldier says he was killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, which would make him the first local service member reported dead this year.

Spc. Kyle Wright, who was from suburban Chicago, died when his Stryker vehicle drove over an improvised bomb, his father, Richard Wright, said Thursday.

Wright served with the 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and was a third-generation soldier.

“Kyle was a better man than me when I was 22, and was well on his way to being a better man than I am today,” said his father, who was a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division. “He was the most honorable man I’ve ever known in my life.”

There was no official release of casualties Thursday from Fort Lewis nor the Department of Defense.

Wright is the 31st member of the brigade reported dead since it deployed to southern Afghanistan last summer. All but one have been killed in explosions.

Richard Wright said the bomb that killed his son went off under the driver’s seat and that Kyle was dead by the time soldiers pulled him from the wreckage.

A graduate of Romeoville High School, Kyle Wright reported to Fort Lewis in January 2007 when the 5th Brigade was first being built, his father said, and he went through intensive Arabic language training as the brigade originally prepared to deploy to Iraq.

“He was one of the smarter kids in the outfit, so they tagged him with learning Arabic,” Richard Wright said. “He wasn’t supposed to be driving; they just needed someone with nerves of steel at the wheel.”

In addition to his parents, Kyle Wright is survived by three sisters and a brother, and he had a serious girlfriend he met in the Tacoma area.

His body will be escorted home by his brother-in-law, who works as a 5th Brigade supply sergeant, Richard Wright said.