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Jason Hunt transferred to Texas to be closer to his family

By Ashley Surdin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 6, 2009 5:24 PM

As a boy, Jason Hunt once had to wear silver caps on his front teeth. When he was too timid to smile, his sister, playing on his love for video games, asked him to show his Ninja Turtle teeth.

"He was so embarrassed and such a shy boy," recalled his sister Leila Willingham, 30, of Frederick, Okla. "That was the only was I could make him smile."

In high school, Hunt refused to dissect a cat for a class assignment. He was so upset that his mother had to pick him up from school.

But Hunt's shy and sensitive side was transformed, his family said, when he joined the military. His already caring nature bloomed into something brave, selfless and fearless, they said. He hoped to save somebody's life someday.

That hope was cut short Thursday, when Hunt, 22, was killed in the mass shooting rampage at Fort Hood. He is survived by his wife, Jennifer Hunt; his mother, Gale Hunt; his father, Gary Hunt; his sister, Willingham; and a niece and nephew.

Hunt joined the Army a year after graduating from Tipton High School and served for three and a half years, including a tour in Iraq, where he celebrated his 21st birthday. While there, he reenlisted.

Willingham recalled her brother once likened his feelings for his military family to the love a parent feels for their children.

"He said, 'I would die for your children.' He said, 'I would die for a stranger to save them.' And he said he would dive in front of a bullet for a soldier."

Hunt, who was stationed in Fort Stewart in Georgia after high school, transferred to Fort Hood to be closer to his family.

In August, he got married in Okalahoma City. "He had a blue tie and he was so happy to have his family there and to be becoming part of a family," his sister recalled through sobs.

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