Friends cope with death of Brandon Marine

By The Associated Press

BRANDON — Friends of a Brandon Marine killed in Afghanistan are remembering him for his charismatic personality, his devotion to his wife and his patriotism.

The Defense Department announced Friday that 28-year-old Staff Sgt. Jason A. Rogers died Thursday during combat operations in the Helmand province.

“The loss of Jason Rogers is going to make this world an emptier and lonelier and colder place,” his childhood friend Brandon Winfield said in The Clarion Ledger. “I could write a War and Peace-sized story of the kind of person he was. Some people have it – the room just seemed to be dizzier and brighter with him in it.”

The 2000 Brandon High School graduate had been married to wife Angie for a little less than a year, said another friend, Derrick Brownlee of Jacksonville, Fla., who described Rogers as a happy, laid-back, charismatic practical joker. The two had talked in February.

“One of the things that’s getting me through this is that he said he was finally really happy,” Brownlee said. “He was proud of what he was doing, he loved his wife, and she loved him.”

Brownlee said as word of Rogers’ death made its way around to old friends, he began receiving calls from people he hadn’t heard from in more than a decade, as well as people he never thought he’d hear from again.

The Rankin County School District issued a statement about Rogers.

“Sgt. Rogers was a highly decorated Marine and a young man of strong character and commitment to his country. We are proud that he is a graduate of BHS but we are even prouder of the service he gave to his country,” the statement read.