Cuero mother's son dies in Afghanistan
July 9, 2010 at 2:09 a.m.
CUERO - Rebecca Wolter was looking forward to seeing her oldest son come home for his birthday for the first time in years.
But U.S. Army Sgt. Andrew Creighton, who would have turned 24 on July 24, will be buried next week instead.
Creighton, who the family calls A.J., died in Afghanistan earlier this month when he apparently drowned following a mission in Orzugan province.
He was born in Galveston and grew up in Cuero until leaving to live with his father, Timothy Creighton, in Delaware following his freshman year at Cuero High School.
Wolter said the military told her that Creighton's death is under investigation, but preliminary reports indicate the Special Forces soldier was "swept away" while trying to cross a river.
"They found A.J. three and a half days later, on the Fourth of July," Wolter said.
Wolter said she received a telephone call from her younger son Allen Creighton, an Army Spc. stationed in Hawaii. Allen had been told of his brother's death through his chain of command.
"I didn't know him as a soldier, we never worked together, but he was an excellent brother," said the younger Creighton. "He practically raised me and my sister for the longest time and did a very good job of that as well."
Wolter said her son, who played football in Cuero as a freshman, had a great sense of humor.
"He was very funny," she said. He had a dry humor, very dead pan."
"He was very intelligent," she added. "He always knew he was smarter than everybody else. He was cocky. He would have been a good lawyer."
In high school at Sussex Technical High School in Delaware, Creighton excelled at band, playing baritone, tuba and trumpet. He was also on the wrestling team.
Wolter said Creighton enlisted at 17 right out of high school in 2003 and immediately took to the Army.
"At one point he wanted to be a band director," said Creighton's mother. "But the Army took care of that."
"He loved being part of the military," Wolter said, noting he turned down a chance to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. "He was also offered a ridiculous amount of money in the civilian service doing the same sorts of things, but turned that down so he could stay with his buddies. He loved his unit and he loved what he was doing."
Creighton was a signal intelligence specialist with the 1st Special Forces Group from Fort Lewis, Wash.
His brother last saw him in April 2008, when he was best man at Allen's wedding.
His mom, who communicated with her son via Facebook almost daily, and his sister Rachel Creighton had seen him in December when he came to Cuero for Christmas before deploying to Afghanistan in January.
"He was very positive about the work he was doing and focused on the reason he was there," Wolter said.
"Everything he did, he did with a lot of passion and he didn't take one moment for granted," he said.
Wolter said Crieghton's family was everything to him and his friends were "only one peg right behind."
Rachel recalled that her oldest brother always did something special for her birthday.
"Last year he was overseas but he contacted about 10 people and they all called me and said 'your brother told me to call and wish you Happy Birthday.' He was a normal brother. He picked on me, but he was there for me when it counted most," she said.
Wolter, after watching a YouTube tribute video to her late son, said she was overwhelmed with the outpouring of friendship.
"I'm amazed at how many people adored him, not just really liked him, but really loved him," she said. "I love the fact that the video has funny things in it. If you were around A.J., you were laughing at something."
Wolter said she plans to set up scholarships at Creighton's high school in Delaware and in Cuero.
"Once a Gobbler, always a Gobbler," she said.
Wolter said her son was on his last mission before his expected return to Cuero, and she is trying to handle his death in a way he'd approve of.
"He's not the type to dwell on things," she said. "He saw a bit of death in his job and so he had a good perspective on it, so I'm going to take that road. I just know I am not going to see him again, so it will eventually be OK."