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Brother Of Green Beret Killed In Niger On How The Pentagon Is Handling The Aftermath

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Something has gotten lost for Will Wright right in the political back and forth over the deaths of four American soldiers killed in the air earlier this month.

WILL WRIGHT: (Reading) As a nation, we cannot not be so easily divided by political talking points or media outlets with an agenda. We as Americans are better than the petty squabbling that has replaced the true issues at hand.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Wright is reading from a statement he released this week on behalf of his family. His brother, Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, was among those killed in Niger. He was 29 years old.

SIEGEL: Will Wright told us last week how kind and generous his younger brother was. He said anyone who met him was changed forever, that he made time for everyone. The last time Will saw Dustin was before he deployed. His family threw a going-away party for him, and Dustin instead made it a surprise birthday party for his brother.

CHANG: A lot has happened in the last week. The controversy over a condolence call by President Trump got louder. And Monday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave more details about what happened in Niger and what questions remain. And Will Wright says that should be the focus, nothing else, which is why, he says, he put out his family's statement the same day.

WRIGHT: We had numerous media outlets attempting to contact us. And I've basically made it a full-time job handling the media for my family. It's evident throughout this entire process that there has been a politicization of the events, and that's not a judgment. That's a fact that the antagonistic relationship between the administration and media has caused this to become a political matter. And we don't want those pressures and, you know, some of the disagreements or the back and forth to become the focus and for it to drive the demand for answers.

CHANG: I asked Will if there was a flipside to this, if he thought all the attention could help shed light on the ambush in Niger.

WRIGHT: I think anytime attention can be brought to the issue, it helps. But if it's brought to the issue in a negative way or with an antagonistic standpoint, then it only clouds the matter and makes it political. So while the attention has put it on a national scale, it did make this about comments, about phone calls, about, you know, letters being mailed instead of the events itself. So you know, it's not about the president. We as a nation are better than that. We should focus on what matters the most.

CHANG: We talked with you about a week ago now, and I'm wondering, how are you working through your grief while also trying to be patient and urging people to take a stand and urging this investigation to be thorough and to keep pushing forward?

WRIGHT: Well, for me, that is a deeply personal issue, and I don't mind sharing it, you know? I was very close to my brother. We're only 13 months apart, and we confided in each other about just about everything. And I know my brother is - even though he's not here, he has given me a mission. He's given me a job to do, and right now that's take care of my family.

I have not had a chance to grieve, but at the same time, I've set aside time for myself in the near future to do that because I have a mission to do, and I have a torch to carry for my brother and for my family. And when it's my turn to step away, I will.

CHANG: That's Will Wright. Thank you very much for talking with us again.

WRIGHT: Yes, Ma'am. Thank you for the opportunity to speak about Dustin and to address some of the concerns as far as the conversation and allowing us to be a part of it and helping us to support soldiers and their families.

CHANG: Will Wright's brother, Staff Sergeant Dustin Wright, was killed earlier this month in Niger. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.