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43-acre facility set to be named for fallen Auburn soldier

Husband, father is missed every day, wife says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A former Auburn resident killed while serving in Iraq is set to be honored in a permanent memorial. PFC Jesse Mizener was 23 when he was killed in a mortar attack in January 2004. He left behind a wife, Nicole, and three young children. When a fellow soldier was hit in the chest with mortar, Mizener covered her to prevent her from receiving more injuries, saving her life. On July 27 the Army is set to name the new Mizener Wheel & Track Facility at Fort Benning, Ga. in Mizener’s honor. David Shepherd, director of logistics for Fort Benning, said Mizener was the perfect candidate for the honor. “We have a new facility, a maintenance facility … and we wanted to memorialize it in recognition of a soldier who gave his life for his country,” Shepherd said. “It really goes back to American values and selfless service. We have a soldier who gave up his life in defense of his country and to save fellow soldiers, and that defines the epitome of the type of folks we have in our Army and who are serving our country every day.” Shepherd said the facility is 43 acres and has six maintenance buildings in one complex. It employs 230 people, mostly civilians and contractors. The facility will be used for the maintenance of various Army vehicles and manufacturing of tools used to fix the vehicles. It will serve counties in Georgia, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, Shepherd said. Shepherd said the facility will hopefully also serve as an inspiration to others. “The facility … will be named after Jesse, and it’s our hope folks will, when they see the plaque that memorializes the facility, that they will remember Jesse’s sacrifice and that it helps motivate them to also perform at their best.” Auburn resident Michelle Tramel, Mizener’s mother-in-law, said when she found out about the memorial she remembered a conversation she had with Mizener when he came home for the birth of his son, Jesse Jr., and was featured in the Auburn Journal. “When Jesse was home for the birth of Jesse Jr. I ran down to the store and I got the newspaper, and he looked at it … and he looked over at me and said, ‘I’m going to be much more famous,’” Tramel said. “And that is the first thing that came to me. He finally got his wish. I think it’s a great honor. It’s a great legacy to leave his kids.” Nicole Mizener said she is proud of the honor being paid to her husband. “I’d have to say that first of all I felt really blessed,” Nicole Mizener said. “If anybody deserved it, it would probably be him. He was a really great person. I know that this is the first mechanic that is being memorialized in this way in the history of the military. That is really important I think. The kids are really excited. They think it’s really neat.” Mizener said she still has a message she wants to send to the community of Auburn. “I would like to have an opportunity to thank the Auburn community for all that they did after Jesse’s passing,” she said. “I really didn’t have an opportunity because of the way things happen when you lose somebody so close.” Jesse and Nicole’s children, Gia, Eve and Jesse Jr. are now 10, 9 and 7 years old respectively. The family recently moved from Auburn to Sacramento, and Mizener said they think of their husband and father all the time. “I love my husband very much, and I’m very proud of him and he’s missed every day,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com