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A 40-year-old soldier who grew up in Northern Virginia and attended the old Groveton High School was killed Wednesday in Iraq, the Defense Department announced yesterday.
James D. Blankenbecler, a command sergeant major, the highest rank for enlisted personnel in any Army unit, was in a convoy in Samarra that was hit by an explosive device and rocket-propelled grenades, the Pentagon said.
DoD News: http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/200 ... -0499.html
It's hard to find the words to express how tragic this truly is. Below is a link to a Wash. Post article reflecting that Jim was a replacement for another soldier who just retired, and was only in Iraq for five days prior to the attack. Worse, Jim left behind a wife and three kids. Please remember them in your prayers.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ar ... 3Oct3.html
I had english and german class with him. A really nice guy. It is a shame that anyone has to die in a war we should have finished in 1991.
However, I am extremely proud as an Army Desert Storm veteran that a former alumni of our school died in honorable service to his country. God bless his memory and his family.
class of '82
"Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived."
George S. Patton[/quote]
For those that would like to do something in Jim's honor:
A memorial fund has been established for the Blankenbecler children. Contributions can be made to "Memorial Fund for Children of Command Sgt. Maj. James D. Blankenbecler," Fort Hood National Bank, P.O. Box 5000, Fort Hood, TX, 76544.
There is also a service planned for him at West Potomac. They are still waiting for permission from the county to hold it, but are hoping to have it soon and will release info about it shortly.
I attended Jim's Funeral in Killeen, Texas. Jim died with honor, integrity and a great sense of love and compassion for everyone he met. He rose through the ranks as an enlisted man and made it to the top. His funeral was the most dignified send-off I will ever witness. Jim was promoted to command the 44th Battallion just 5 days before he was ambushed by a rocket propelled grenade. He died living a life that he was commited to with pride. He never let a door go unopened, a sneeze go without a "God Bless", a hand unheld. He took immense pride in mentoring his soldiers. He travelled the world, learning, protecting and loving.
Thanks to all of those whom attended the memorial service at our Groveton HS.
Does any one have contact information for the family? I know Jim had a wife, but I think his folks moved from the NOVA aria. I would like to send a condolance. I knew Jim from when I was a kid. We played little league together in the bucknell Little League, and since my Dad was the coach, we know his parents too. Jim was one heck of an athlete, and one stand up man.
Charles L. Woznak
9 posts • Page 1 of 1
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