Beaverton Historical Society
Gladwin County Obituary/Death Notice
Brad Wentz

Fallen hero
County suffers first Iraq war loss
By Mark Constance and Jennifer McArdle

   GLADWIN – His work and commitment took him far from the forests, lakes and hockey rinks that he called home. And when Sgt. Brad Wentz came back to Gladwin on leave last month from the U.S. Army, he couldn’t have known it would be for the last time. He was killed in action last Friday while serving in Iraq.

   He leaves behind a wife, Tami, and their 16-month old daughter, Jerzey. Major Willie Harris of the 88th Regional Readiness Command Public Affairs office said details of how Brad died were sketchy. Harris held a formal press conference at the Record & Clarion offices yesterday afternoon that included representatives from several regional media outlets.

   “What we do know is that he was traveling in a convoy and that the vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device or a rocket propelled grenade,” he said. “There were no other fatalities ... (and) it’s under investigation.”

   Brad graduated from Gladwin High School in 2002. He took his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in July of 2001 and was part of the Muskegonbased 180th Army Reserve Transportation Company. He was stationed at Camp Anaconda in Iraq at the time of his death.

   Brad’s grandmother, Michelle Hisey, said she found out about the death from a family member. “It spread like wildfire,” she said. “The military came and spoke to his mother, father and his wife.”

   She said that Brad’s daughter, Jerzey, was the light of his life. “He was a great father and a great husband,” Michelle said. “She was all he talked about ... His family was very important to him.”

   Michelle said Brad loved to hunt, fish, snowmobile, and go water tubing on Wixom Lake. But his greatest love was hockey. He was a member of the Gladwin Area Hockey Association and played on teams for Citgo and Plude Electric.

   “He would play hockey at the drop of a hat,” she said. “Whether it was rollerblading or on the ice. He just loved it.” Lee Kidd of Gladwin said he coached Brad in the late 1990s.

   “He was a good kid,” Lee said. “It’s a terrible thing.”

   Wentz’ grandfather, Bill Hisey, said Brad comes from a family of military veterans.

   His brother, Chris, is currently attending Officer Candidate School in the United States Marine Corps.

   Bill said that Brad was a man of honor and that he believed in his commitment to the military. He also said he wouldn’t discourage any young people, especially Chris, from joining.

   “I believe in our country and I believe in our military,” he said. “We need our young men to give their lives for our freedom ... I’m afraid for them, yes. But that’s human nature.”

   Gladwin High School Principal Bill Shellenbarger said the community should be proud.

   “The ... staff was saddened to hear about the passing on of Brad,” he said. “President Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ “That’s exactly what Brad did. He made the ultimate sacrifice ... Brad was a great young man. We will miss him and always be proud that he was a loyal and dedicated member of our armed forces.”

   Michelle said the family is humbled by the outpouring of support they’ve received. “This is a small town and everyone knows everybody,” she said. “When we came into town and saw the signs in the businesses, it was just incredible. People here care.”

   For this family, Memorial Day will have a deeper meaning. “I want people to be thankful for their freedom,” Michelle said. “And remember the guys who are gone and the guys who are out there struggling and sacrificing for us. We wouldn’t be here without their effort.”

   Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday at Hall Funeral Home in Gladwin from 10 a.m. to noon, with open visitation from noon to 9 p.m. A funeral service is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. in the Gladwin High School cafetorium. Brigadier General Beasley will attend. Brad will be interned at Highland Cemetery in Gladwin.

   A trust fund at Chemical Bank has been set up for Jerzey’s college education under the name of Brad A. Wentz. For information contact Chemical Bank at 989-426-9246.

Personal Information
Death Date
Burial/Final Location
Highland Cemetery, Gladwin, MI
Army Reserve
Publication Information
Pub. Date
Pub. Page
Gladwin County Record, Gladwin, MI
P:A1 C:?
Transcription Information
Transcribed by
Source Media
September 2009
Bob Frei
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Posted by Bob Frei with the assistance of Jeff Naugle