GRAND JUNCTION - Military officials on Monday confirmed the death of a soldier who dropped out of high school to care for his ill mother full-time and joined the Army after she died.Cpl. Wade J. Oglesby, 27, was one of two soldiers killed Wednesday in Taji, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle, the Defense Department said.Cpl. Michael M. Rojas, 21, of Fresno, Calif., also was killed. Both were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division at Fort Lewis, Wash.Oglesby was a sophomore when he dropped out of Grand Junction High School. Though he later earned his GED, he delayed his education and career to look after his family, including his younger sister, Samantha.After his mother, Linda, died in September 2003 of heart failure, Oglesby moved in with Gary Decocq - whom Oglesby called his father - and Sheila Decocq."He was one of the most unbelievably nurturing men I'd ever met," Sheila Decocq said. "I don't think he ever once thought, 'Well gee, I don't get to do this, or I don't get to do that.' "He and a stepbrother, Chris Walker, both enlisted in the Army in 2004."He wanted to make a difference," Gary Decocq said. "He wanted to get an education, and he had nothing going on here.""We needed something to do," said Walker, who is stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. "It seemed like a logical step." Walker returned in December from a yearlong tour of Iraq.Sheila Decocq remembered Oglesby as painfully shy when younger but said he gained confidence in the Army."He really came into his own," she said."He had a British sense of humor," Walker said. "That kid would bend over backwards and go to the ends of the earth if you needed anything."Gary Decocq said Oglesby, a slender 6-foot-3, wanted to become a police officer after he was discharged from the Army.Oglesby had been in Iraq since last summer and his tour had recently been extended until October. He recently had been assigned to security details and had been conducting raids around Baghdad, his family said."We were hoping to meet him at the airport," she said. "I guess we still will, but in a different way."
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