River Falls native killed in Iraq
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jesse B. Albrecht loved eagles. Statues and pictures of eagles adorn the home the paratrooper from western Wisconsin shared with his wife, Crystal, in Wasilla, Alaska. So it was no coincidence, she thought, when one of the maj...
Army Sgt. 1st Class Jesse B. Albrecht loved eagles.
Statues and pictures of eagles adorn the home the paratrooper from western Wisconsin shared with his wife, Crystal, in Wasilla, Alaska.
So it was no coincidence, she thought, when one of the majestic symbols of freedom began circling the couple's home the day after she was informed of her husband's death in Iraq.
"I just figured he had come back," Crystal Albrecht said in a telephone interview Monday evening.
"He had come home."
Albrecht, 31, died Thursday in Iskandariya, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle he was traveling, according to a statement Monday from the U.S. Department of Defense.
He was assigned to the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, based at Fort Richardson, Alaska, the statement said.
"Every time he saw an eagle statue, he just had to buy it," Albrecht's wife recalled.
"And this eagle circled the house for about 20 minutes."
He was born Jesse Bryon Albrecht on Sept. 11, 1975, in River Falls. He grew up in Glenwood City and Emerald and graduated from Prescott High School, where he was on the wrestling team.
He enlisted in the Army in June 1993, even before graduating from Prescott High in 1994, his wife said.
"He took his basic training between his junior and senior years," she said.
Albrecht had built a house in Alaska with his new wife, picked up a new hobby in Iraq and planned to become an Army recruiter.
He had smart, well-laid-out plans, according to his mother, Denise Albrecht, and he'd sit around at night with his fellow soldiers chatting about golf and what courses they'd play when they returned from military service.
Albrecht deployed to Iraq in September and was home for a two-week visit in January, Crystal Albrecht said.
He loved camping, four-wheeling and, since moving to Alaska, snow-boarding, his wife said.
He also had a passion for salmon fishing, though he didn't have a taste for the fish.
"He would give away the fish he caught to people who did," his wife said. "He did all he could for everyone he met."
Over the weekend the Pentagon reported the death of Sgt. 1st Class Scott J. Brown, 33, formerly of Brookfield, who died after his Humvee was hit with a roadside bomb and gunfire in Baghdad. Seventy-five Wisconsin service members have been killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.
Along with his wife and mother, Albrecht is survived by his father, William Pollei; and his daughter from a previous marriage, Salena Albrecht, age 11.
Albrecht is the 74th Wisconsin resident to die as a result of service in Iraq or associated with duties there. A funeral service has been scheduled for Saturday at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Glenwood City where Albrecht was baptized, Rev. Ralph Thompson said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.
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