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- Operation Enduring Freedom
- Operation Freedom’s Sentinel
- Operation Inherent Resolve
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- The People Behind The Sacrifice
Army Sgt. James C. Akin
Died June 3, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom
23, of Albuquerque, N.M.; assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.; died June 3 in Thania, Iraq, of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Also killed were Staff Sgt. Greg P. Gagarin, Sgt. Tyler J. Kritz and Sgt. Robert A. Surber.
Albuquerque soldier killed in Baghdad
The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico soldier who wanted to someday become president of the U.S. has been killed in Iraq.
Army Sgt. James C. Akin, 23, and three other soldiers were killed June 3 near Baghdad when the Humvee that Akin was driving was destroyed by a bomb, family spokesman Victor Raigoza said. Akin would have been 24 on June 28, according to his wife, Syreeta, of Rio Rancho.
“He was willing to put his actions where his mouth was,” Raigoza said. “If he one day occupied the office where war would be determined, [he felt] that it would be necessary for him to have experienced that.”
Syreeta Akin wrote on his Web page — http://www.myspace.com/akin_for_president — on the social networking site MySpace.com: “You always did what you loved to do, and that is serve your country. I appreciate your sacrifice and well as all others before you. Without people like you where would our country be?”
The Web page has turned into a memorial for Akin, with comments from family, friends and Army buddies.
The U.S. Department of Defense had not confirmed Akin’s death as of June 6.
Funeral services are pending, and Akin will be buried in the National Cemetery in Santa Fe, Raigoza said.
Akin, an Albuquerque native and 2001 Valley High School graduate who joined the Army in 2004, was a self-professed politics and sports junkie. He worked on Raigoza’s 2004 campaign when Raigoza sought the Democratic nomination for a state Senate seat.
“We ended up spending three months together, almost day and night,” Raigoza recalled.
He said he worried when Akin was deployed. Because of Akin’s gregarity and leadership qualities, he felt at the time “there’s a good chance James will never come back,” Raigoza said.
In addition to his wife, Akin is survived by his father, James W. Akin of Albuquerque. His mother, Marianne, died in October, Raigoza said.
Five more Fort Lewis soldiers killed in Iraq
The Associated Press
FORT LEWIS, Wash. — The Department of Defense has identified five more Fort Lewis soldiers killed in Iraq, four when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle and a fifth fatally wounded in a separate encounter.
Sgt. Andrews J. Higgins, 28, of Hayward, Calif., died Tuesday in Baqubah of wounds sustained when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire. He was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team).
Since he reported to Fort Lewis in October 2000, Higgins had served primarily as a fire support specialist and forward observer. He was on his first deployment to Iraq.
The Defense Department said Wednesday that Staff Sgt. Greg P. Gagarin, 38, of Los Angeles; Sgt. James C. Akin, 23, of Albuquerque, N.M.; Sgt. Tyler J. Kritz, 21, of Eagle River, Wis.; and Sgt. Robert A. Surber, 24, of Inverness, Fla., were killed Sunday in Thania, Iraq.
They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team).
Higgins wanted to be a soldier and serve his country from the time he was a boy, going through Army basic training in high school and spending two years in the Army Reserves after graduation, but was increasingly disillusioned about the war in Iraq, his father, Jerry James Higgins, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“He was a wonderful person, the kind of soldier who chooses to go to someplace like Iraq for his country,” the elder Higgins said. “He was more and more disappointed with what was happening to the troops over there. He had made up his mind that he was not going to re-enlist when his enlistment was up in 2009.”
Higgins also is survived by his mother, Cheryl Higgins, and wife, Rachel Higgins.
Akin, who was driving the Humvee carrying the other three men, wanted to become president someday, family spokesman Victor Raigoza said in Albuquerque. Akin would have been 24 on June 28, according to his wife, Syreeta, of Rio Rancho, N.M.
“He was willing to put his actions where his mouth was,” Raigoza said. “If he one day occupied the office where war would be determined, (he felt) that it would be necessary for him to have experienced that.”
Syreeta Akin wrote on his Web page: “You always did what you loved to do, and that is serve your country. I appreciate your sacrifice (as) well as all others before you. Without people like you where would our country be?”
Kritz enlisted in 2003, arrived at Fort Lewis that November and died on his second assignment in Iraq, the Rhinelander Daily News of Wisconsin reported.
Students at Northland Pines High School in Eagle River observed a moment of silence to remember him Wednesday, the last day of classes. Teacher Jason Foster said Kritz was shy but friendly.
“He was well-liked. When he did talk, he had a sense of humor,” Foster said. “I think his favorite subject was to be done with high school. He was motivated to be done.”
Mourners remember Army sergeant’s ambitious character
The Associated Press
ALBUQUERQUE — Mourners remembered Army Sgt. James Akin for his political ambitions. The soldier, killed in Iraq last week, aspired to be president, and posters in red, white and blue were distributed by the hundreds at his funeral.
“James Akin for President,” they read.
“We’re all here to cast our votes for this young man,” Calvary Chapel pastor Skip Heitzig said at the June 12 service.
Akin was one of four soldiers killed June 3 near Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded close to the Humvee he was driving. He was days away from turning 24 and days away from returning from the war in Iraq.
“He believed that he could be the president,” said Lt. Gov. Diane Denish, one of several Democratic dignitaries who attended.
Akin, friends said, had a big personality that was hard to forget, walking into a crowded room and instantly creating an almost celebrity attraction. He volunteered for the state Democratic party in 2000.
“He was political. He was passionate,” said his wife, Syreeta Akin of Rio Rancho.
She recalled their first date in March 2004, when Akin asked her two important questions: Was she a registered voter and was she a Democrat?
“ ‘Good, ’ ” she recalled him responding when she said yes to both.
“He loved his country and was proud to be an American, more so than anyone I know,” the composed young widow said.
That love of country and his desire to one day be president led Akin to join the Army — and to sign up for an artillery unit, assuring he saw fighting in Iraq, Mrs. Akin said.
“He wanted to get out there. He wanted to get his boots dirty,” she said. “He wanted to go to Iraq.”
Akin, a 2001 Valley High School graduate, was assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team based out of Fort Lewis, Wash. He deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2004.
For his service, Akin received numerous awards, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and the Army Commendation Medal.
Akin is survived by his wife and father, James W. Akin of Albuquerque. His mother, Marianne Antonucci, died in October. Burial at the Santa Fe National Cemetery followed the services.