Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sons of Seffner man killed in Afghanistan have lost two father figures to war

Sgt. 1st Class Jason John Fabrizi, 29, of Seffner was close to his sons Jason Allen, 9, left, and Tyler, 6. The boys learned Tuesday that their dad was killed in Afghanistan.

DORA MAE ANDERSON | Special to the Times

Sgt. 1st Class Jason John Fabrizi, 29, of Seffner was close to his sons Jason Allen, 9, left, and Tyler, 6. The boys learned Tuesday that their dad was killed in Afghanistan.

TAMPA — It's the visit every military family fears.

Casualty assistance officers knock on the door, a letter bearing solemn news in hand: The war claimed a loved one.

Most families never experience such grief. At the ages of 6 and 9, Tyler and Jason Allen Fabrizi of Riverview have endured it twice.

Officers knelt to the boys' level Tuesday evening as they told them their father, Sgt. 1st Class Jason John Fabrizi, had died in Afghanistan.

Two years ago, their stepfather suffered a similar fate in Iraq.

"The kids were pretty close to both of them," said Dora Mae Anderson, the boys' maternal grandmother. "It's bad enough if you lose one in that war. But when you know two people, oh, man, it's sickening."

Fabrizi, 29, was stationed in Colorado with his second wife and third son before his most recent tour. The couple was expecting a daughter in October.

But Anderson said Fabrizi called the boys almost every day. They spent last summer with him in Colorado, playing Little League. He instilled in them a passion for sports and told them to mind their teachers.

"I think we are all still just in shock because it's so hard to believe," said Teri Bell, Fabrizi's ex-wife. "They talked to their dad just a week ago on the phone."

Bell's second husband, Ryan, was also in the Army. He was killed by an explosion in 2007.

Fabrizi had spent 30 months in Iraq over the course of three separate tours, collecting top military honors for his combat leadership.

"He led troops during all 30 months, whereas a lot of guys take the easy way out and they take an office job," said Timothy Hess, Fabrizi's stepfather and a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. "He loved doing his job and he went out on every patrol, every time."

But family members say his pending stint in Afghanistan left Fabrizi with an inkling he did not recognize. Something felt wrong.

So he planned a weeklong fishing trip to the Keys with Tyler, Jason Allen and other members of his family.

"He knew what it was like to be a child and to have me gone and in the combat environment," said Hess, who saw action in Somalia. "He knew what he was putting his kids through and he knew it wasn't good."

Though Fabrizi had survived the war multiple times, relatives still uttered words of caution before his deployment.

"I told him all the time, 'Keep your head down,' " Anderson said. "He said, 'Don't worry mom, I will.' "

Fabrizi's mounted patrol was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms in the Konar province Tuesday.

"I had talked to him about a week, week-and-a-half before it happened," said Jarrod Hess, Fabrizi's stepbrother. "He was in such good spirits. I just wish I would have talked to him longer. If I had just known."

For the adults, the loss is unsettling, but not unreasonable. It's easier to rationalize Fabrizi's decision to leave and the cause he championed wholeheartedly.

But for Tyler and Jason Allen, Anderson said they cannot yet fully comprehend what has happened. They know their dad left and will not come back. They know the same war has deprived them of two father figures.

Jay Wedel works with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a group that mentors children who have lost parents to war. A retired Air Force honor guardsman, Wedel has worked with children for seven years and seen many grow into their teens.

He said many young children are left with feelings of confusion and anger over why they had to grow up without one parent.

"These kids kind of have that continual hole," Wedel said. "It stays with them, but they get to a point where they are healthy with their grief."

Anderson and other family members said they will one day share with the boys why Fabrizi's death was so valiant and how he benefited the country.

They will eventually describe how he earned a Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Medals, two Bronze Stars and more than a dozen other accolades during his military career.

But for now, Anderson said they have to explain Fabrizi's death in terms the boys can understand. Especially 6-year-old Tyler, who still idolizes action heroes like Spider-Man.

"He's a hero, too," Anderson said of Fabrizi.

"He's just like him?" Tyler responded.

"Yep," she said, "just like Spider-Man."

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report.

Sons of Seffner man killed in Afghanistan have lost two father figures to war 07/17/09 [Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2009 5:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]
  2. Video: The scene in Seminole Heights at the sites of three killings

    News

    Tampa police have blanketed the Southeast Seminole Heights neighborhood during their investigation of three shooting deaths over 11 days that they believe to be related.

    Balloons and candles seen along 15th Street where Anthony Naiboa, 20, was found dead on Oct. 19, photographed in Southeast Seminole Heights in Tampa on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. Three shooting deaths in the area in the last two weeks are considered by police to be related.
  3. FBI: Florida man sympathized with IS, wanted to bomb mall

    Courts

    MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man who described himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group faces terrorism-related charges stemming from a purported plot to bomb a Miami-area shopping mall, according to court documents filed Monday.

    An undated file image posted on an extremist website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the Islamic State group marching in Raqqa, Syria. The group champions a hyper-religious lifestyle grounded in a self-proclaimed caliphate, but most recruits have a superficial understanding of religion and are largely ignorant in the laws of Islam. [Militant photo, via Associated Press]
  4. Frog Pond restaurant opens new location in downtown St. Petersburg

    Blogs

    There's a new option for breakfast and lunch in downtown St. Petersburg.

    Frog Pond's original location, seen here in 2006, has been open in North Redington Beach for 35 years. A new Frog Pond restaurant opened in St. Petersburg this week.
  5. Estuary wins pier design contest for the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway extension

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — And the winner is… Estuary.

    Voters overwhelmingly supported a pier design called Estuary for the $200-million extension of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa.
[Courtesy of AECOM]