Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Please Remember Army Staff Sgt. James A. Justice

Today we remember Army Staff Sgt. James A. Justice, 32-years-old, assigned to the 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment.

Justice died on Saturday, April 23, just one day shy of Easter Sunday in combat in the Kapisa province of Afghanistan.

His life ended while trying to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter in Afghanistan.

His unit returned from a patrol Saturday morning and found out two people aboard a reconnaissance and light attack helicopter had made a hard landing and needed help.

His Iowans' rescue team came under fire shortly after landing, and Justice was hit by small-arms fire about 10 a.m. Afghan time. Justice died at the scene.

Justice also had a passion for the Guard. Despite having served his fair share overseas, Justice always felt as though he was being left behind when he was in the states. So, when the 113th Cavalry was in need of an experienced NCO, Justice jumped at the opportunity. He volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan even though he was given an opportunity to stay behind.

Sgt. Kevin Schaefer described him as a charismatic, natural leader and an integral part of his unit’s community. Justice was always quick to make a joke.

“He had such a quick wit that he would insert a joke and it would take you two minutes before you realized he was making fun of you,” Schaefer said. “He was a rare breed.”

A close family friend said Sunday that Justice loved helping others and making them happy. Justice had a jovial spirit and often found it difficult to be serious because he loved making others laugh. He would have never thought for a moment about helping someone out, he would always just jump in.

“He was honorable — you know that from the way he died,” said Judy Erb, a friend of the Justice family. “He’s a hero, just like all those other boys over there.”

Justice, who was married with a 3-year-old daughter, is the third member of the Iowa Guard in Afghanistan to be killed this month.

Justice’s family issued this statement through the Guard:
“James Alan Justice meant many things to every person he encountered. He was the funny best friend named “Juice” that could be counted on when needing to be cheered up; the uncle who always knew just what to say and when to hand out hugs; the son who was his parents’ pride and joy; the father who loved his little girl more than anything in the world and couldn’t wait to have more children; and the husband who loved to put a smile on his wife’s face. One thing James was to everyone was the ultimate soldier. He loved the military and he looked forward to every deployment. While we were stunned and extremely saddened to learn of his tragic death, we all take solace knowing that James died doing what he loved best: serving his country beside the men and women he revered and trusted.

We thank you for your thoughts, prayers and kindness at this extremely difficult time. We are deeply saddened by our loss, but extremely proud of the honorable way he served America as a leader in the U.S. Army. We will remember him, his strength, his infectious sense of humor, his faith in God, and his love for his family, friends and country with great pride.”

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