"Jason I think was more a presence than a person. He was a force," said Rhonda Winfield, Jason's mother.
A cowboy that could always light up a room; that describes Jason Redifer. The marine was killed Monday, January 31, when the vehicle he was riding in ran over an explosive device in Iraq. This happened just hours after he spoke with his mother for what would be the last time.
"We hung up and I felt like we were turning the corner, we were ready to make our plans to get him, and two hours later he was involved in the incident that took his life," said Winfield.
Redifer grew up on a farm in Stuarts Draft and graduated from Stuart Hall School in Staunton. A table at the school now pays tribute to the young man, known for wearing his cowboy hats and boots. Words of good-byes and remembrances are helping students and faculty cope with the loss.
"Jason was one of those people that as soon as you met him you felt like you've known him forever," said Robin von Seldeneck, college counselor at Stuart Hall.
"I think he was very much an individual, very courageous, very concerned about other people. Wonderful. We really miss him," said Beth Hodge, Director of Administration for Stuart Hall.
Even though Redifer died a hero, his mother says it was those he touched along the way that really made her son a special person.
"Jason was the type of person that made everybody a better person," said WInfield. "My husband told me last night that I had raised a fine young man; that young man raised me."
In some strange way it's almost as if Redifer knew his path. One of the quotes in his senior year yearbook was, "Cowards die many times before their death; the valiant never taste of death but once.”
Redifer's body arrived on US soil earlier Wednesday. His family says they will have a memorial service and the marine will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. No word yet on any dates.