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Hero Brave Journey Find out why Key Biscayner Wesley “Wes” Pritchett is more than just a hero, he is an inspiration to his family, friends, neighbors, fellow Americans and all the people worldwide he is fighting to protect from the world’s evils. Tex t by Lourdes Reigosa 42 For many, war is a contradiction. Its intentions are to attain (or maintain) peace, to defend and protect, it’s interpreted by some as a necessary evil. With war also comes the much-respected virtues of bravery and courage; the fight for our beliefs and way of life; and the unifying of an entire people. Whether or not you agree with what’s happening overseas, we can all agree on one thing: Those in the military are a respected, commendable few. Case in point: Wesley “Wes” Pritchett, a U.S. Army OH- 58 Kiowa Warrior Pilot deployed to Afghanistan a few weeks ago. Wes has been interested in the army long before he decided to join. He lives those very virtues the military upholds. “Wes has always had a respect for the cause in which the Armed Forces fight to protect, and the values that the institutions stand for,” explains mother Winnie Pritchett. It’s easy to imagine how difficult Wes’s deployment must be for his family. It’s evident the high regard to which he is held; a great deal of his character was perceived solely from reading Winnie’s response regarding her only son. Simply put, he was born a leader and has always had a well-developed sense of who he is. This was evident to his mother in sports and at school when Wes was a young boy. “What makes him a leader is his innate sense of right and wrong and his willingness to live up to that, whether he’s espousing a popular position or not,” she says. Though he’s leaving, the family is in by no means inactive about his deployment. Winnie has organized countless gatherings of friends and family as a means to bid a short, temporary farewell. She also raised enough funds to send Sony Readers to more than 90 soldiers. This year, she hopes to send even more to Wes’s platoon as well as other platoons. His youngest sister, also named Winnie, is VP of Ransom Everglades’ Support Our Soldiers Club. “This year the first care packages we make are going directly to my brother,” says little Winnie. For Wes, living the military life certainly yields its rewards. He has a great amount of pride and honor in working with his soldiers and being able to call himself their leader. “The most rewarding part is spending time with my soldiers and appreciating the sacrifices that they make,” shares Wes. “My personal motivation stems from the values we are fighting to protect, and the sense of pride I have when I put on my uniform and understand what is at stake if we fail. And because of soldiers like Wes, we can let freedom ring. God Bless America, indeed.