Media Contact: Kelly Armstrong, 415 525 0410
Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. will be moved from a segregated cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida and rejoined with his wife, Ouida F. Wright from a Georgia cemetery for reburial at Arlington National Cemetery,
“Love Separated in Life..Love Reunited in Honor.”
Antioch, CA- Antioch resident Phyllis Wright Cameron, 50, and husband Woodrow Cameron, 51, are preparing to pay tribute to Mrs. Cameron’s parents, Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. and Ouida Fay McLendon Wright by having their remains moved to Arlington National Cemetery for a March 10, 2014 ceremony in Arlington, Virginia.
"We just got an email on Monday that George Moll, who was in Viet Nam with our Dad and the widow of Lieutenant Shannon, who was honored along with our father at the "Shannon Wright" Vinh Long base,will be joining us," said Phyllis Wright Cameron. "It's amazing grace! We just got notice from Arlington this month that we could have the ceremony and in less than thirty days, we are gifted with someone who knew our father 50 years ago!"
Spearheaded by the oldest child of Sp5 Wyley Wright Jr. (December 10, 1931-March 9, 1964) and Ouida McLendon Wright (January 10, 1935-March 9, 1970), after a family reunion in Jacksonville, Florida, July 4th weekend in 2012, the siblings Jackie, Joe, Stanley and Phyllis agreed to find out what it would take to move their father from a segregated cemetery to Arlington National Cemetery.
As Woodrow and Phyllis Cameron launch “The WRight Place for Seniors” in Pittsburg, CA, the history behind the commemoration of the Wrights, is shedding light on the passion Phyllis, an insurance executive with a real estate background, has around providing housing for elders and emancipated foster youth. “I am finding that the parents I did not know had a strong loving relationship and very generous hearts with deep concern for others; so I guess it’s in my DNA to do this sort of thing. This commemoration illuminated where these feelings of concern come from. It’s inspiring to my husband as well without whom I could not begin to get this home started.” Woodrow, worked for more than a decade at the American Cancer society until recently and is now a professional services business consultant focusing on systems alignment and efficiency.
“I learned from my older siblings that our Dad, died in Viet Nam at the age of 32 after completing all of his regular missions with honors, just two weeks before returning home as he served on an additional mission as honor guard for then Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara,” said Phyllis Cameron, 5O, the youngest child of the Wrights. “It appears over the years, the City of Jacksonville did not up keep the segregated cemeteries in northern Jacksonville as the news reports and articles said they would do. Our war hero father is buried in one of them, Mt. Olive Cemetery.”
Mrs. Cameron was six months old when her father died. He did not have the opportunity to hold her but did carry a photo of her sent by his wife. When Phyllis was in first grade at the age of six years, her mother died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 35.
When the Wrights started their journey to have their father honored at Arlington, they began to realize that it would be an appropriate honor to pay tribute to their mother as well who is buried in Green Acres Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia that by contrast is a well-kept historic cemetery.
“Hearing my siblings talk about family history, I believe there was a great bound of love between my father and mother who both died on Monday, March 9th six years apart. We’ve talked over the years about whether we would be here today, if it had not been for media, said Mrs. Cameron. By the coincidence of one of my father’s fellow soldiers returning from the Korean War, dropping a photo of our mom, then “Miss Frederick Douglass 1952” and my father picking it up, we are here today. With love at first sight I am told he said in his heart “this is my wife,” so we four siblings stand as their offspring and now our parents have great grandchildren although they were in their early thirties when they died, six years apart,” added Mrs. Cameron.
“I am pleased to be able to support my wife as she commemorates her parents,” said Woodrow Cameron. “This is a part of Black History, American History, Human History, Civil Rights History and a love story that we can share with our daughter, Jessica,” he added.
The Cedar Hills subdivision in Columbus, GA, bordering Fort Benning, GA, is where the Wright children grew up at 1103 Bedford Avenue, a home built for them by their mother Ouida Fay McLendon Wright from proceeds from their father’s insurance. The home at the corner of Bedford and Dawn Court, a distinctive structure built of Tennessee stone by one of few Black contractors at the time, Ed Stovall, is now a facility for the elderly owned by Katie and Robert Morris, cousins of the Wrights, who live across the street. Most identify the former Wright home with a similar structure that was built after it, M.L. Harris United Methodist Church, at the corner of Bedford and Cusseta Road that is also made of Tennessee stone.
The Wright Family says that it all seems to be coming in full circle. Ouida Wright, often spoke of their home as being for extended family and friends in need and now it is serving as such after the Morris’ bought the home to keep it in the family after foreclosure from a predatory loan in the mid 1980’s. Now, the youngest sibling, Phyllis and Woodrow are weeks away from opening “The WRight Place for Seniors.”
“I am really proud of my cousin Fay’s children for doing their best to make it through life without benefit of their parents,” said Katie Morris, a real estate agent, who was a nurse at the time on the floor of Martin Army Hospital where Ouida Fay Wright died. “From Jackie working her way through the University of Georgia raising her teenage sister and her daughter, Tiffanie who was in elementary school at the time, to Joe serving in the U.S. Army, to Stanley now owning his own “Done Wright” trucking company in South Carolina and now Phyllis following our family tradition of service to others, I believe they have proven to be salt of the earth people doing the best they can do with the circumstances they have faced,” added Morris.
Family members will be gathering from around the country in Arlington for the reburials. Stanley Wright, with wife of 29 years, Viola Barnes, the daughter of SFC Romie L. Barnes and Margaret Guest Barnes, a military family also, with their three adult children from Orangeburg, South Carolina; Phyllis Wright Cameron, with Woodrow Cameron, her husband of 26 years and their 8 year old daughter from Antioch, CA near San Francisco, Jackie Wright of San Francisco, with daughter Tiffanie Chiles-Mitchell and her husband of 14 years, Carlos Mitchell with their three children, 9, 8, and 4 years old coming from Dallas and from Columbus, Joe and Brenda, who will be gathering their three adult children from Atlanta and Oakland, CA with their grandchildren 14 and 6 years old coming from Atlanta and Miami. Members of the extended family and friends who can attend have been invited to the memorial celebration titled… “A Tribute to Sp5 Wyley Wright and Ouida F. Wright, Love Separated in Life… Love Joined in Honor.”
The Wrights thank the soldiers of the 114th Aviation Company, Taylor Funeral Home of Phenix City, Alabama, Greene Funeral Home of Alexandria, Virginia, Carthage Funeral Home of Jacksonville, Sconiers Funeral Home of Columbus, Georgia, Wilbert Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, Green Acres Cemetery in Columbus, Georgia, and Mount Olive Cemetery of Jacksonville, Florida for their help. The office of Commanding General H.R. McMaster of Fort Benning, GA was of great assistance in providing information along with Arlington National Cemetery.
The services will be at 3:00 p.m., March 10, 2014 at Arlington National Cemetery. A reception will follow at a location to be determined.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to express sentiments of commemoration and congratulations to the family can do so by contributing to the “Wright Place” Senior Facility that is being launched in Pittsburg, CA by Wright sibling Phyllis Cameron and her husband, Woodrow Cameron. Via PayPal on the Internet, email Phyllis.thewrightplace@
(CLiCK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE)
For other background on the family’s journey of honor, see the following links:
"Love Separated in Life...Reunited in Honor" Fact Sheet
Veteran Moves Father to Arlington
Orangeburg Resident Moves Father to Arlington
Asian Week Article 2010 on San Francisco Reunion
News Release 2010 on San Francisco Reunion
Gold Book Describing Death of Sp5 Wright and PFC Shea on March 9, 1964
Battalion History of 114th- “Knights of the Air”(First Army Aviation Unit in Viet Nam) outlining the difficulty of missions: http://www.145thcab.com/