James Stright was born on February 18, 1980, in Concord, Massachusetts. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 9, 1997, and went on active duty to begin basic training on June 18, 1998. PFC Stright completed basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, in August 1998, and then attended UH-60 Black Hawk Repairer training at Fort Eustis, Virginia, from August to December 1998. His first assignment was as a UH-60 mechanic and crew chief with the 57th Air Medical Ambulance Company at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from December 1998 to June 2002, followed by service as a UH-60 mechanic and crew chief with the 377th Air Medical Ambulance Company of the 52nd Medical Battalion in South Korea from June 2002 to September 2003. SSG Stright then joined the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served as an MH-60 crew chief with Company C, 3d Battalion, from September 2003 until he was killed in a training accident on October 23, 2009. During this time he had deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class, and was buried at the Libby Cemetery in Libby, Montana.
His Meritorious Service Medal Citation reads:
For exceptionally meritorious service as a Platoon Sergeant, Section Sergeant, Production Control Noncommissioned Officer in Charge and Crew Chief, Company D, 1st Battalion. Sergeant First Class Stright's relentless commitment to the pursuit of excellence contributed immeasurably to the unit's combat readiness and unparalleled record of mission accomplishment. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), the United States Army Special Operations Command, and the United States Army.
His 7th Air Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious achievement on 18 December 2008 as a MH-60K fully mission-qualified Crewchief for a Joint Task Force in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On this date, Staff Sergeant Stright's tactical and technical expertise were vital to the successful execution of a direct action mission in support of strategic objectives. His action were commendable in ever aspect and distinguished him as an exemplary Soldier and dedicated leader. Staff Sergeant Stright's distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the command, and the United States Army.