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Army Spc. James J. Holmes

Died May 8, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

28, of East Grand Forks, Minn.; assigned to C Company, 141st Engineer Combat Battalion, North Dakota National Guard, Hettinger, N.D.; died May 8 in Landstuhl, Germany, from injuries sustained on May 3 when an improvised explosive device detonated near the driver side of his military vehicle in Iraq.

Family, friends remember soldier killed in Iraq

Associated Press

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Dignitaries, friends and family members paid their respects Thursday to a North Dakota National Guard soldier killed in Iraq.

Spec. James Holmes, 28, of East Grand Forks, Minn., died May 8 in a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. He was wounded May 3 when a roadside bomb exploded while he was on patrol in a Humvee.

Holmes was the eighth Minnesota resident killed in Iraq since the war began. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart when he was buried May 17 in his home state of Arizona. His parents, George and Rhonda Holmes, attended the memorial service organized by the North Dakota National Guard here.

First Sgt. Bradley Aune said Holmes was an outstanding soldier and a good man.

“We had a kind of a special bond because he was a former Marine and I was a former Marine, so we hit it off right away,” Aune said. “He was always a guy I could count on to do the mission.”

Holmes was assigned to the 188th Air Defense Artillery, but volunteered to serve in the 141st Engineer Combat Battalion when it was called up to serve in Iraq because it was short-staffed.

Aune said he wanted people to remember Holmes for the basics.

“That he was just a good man and that he served his country and he did what every service man does, try to do the best he can and doesn’t expect nothing in return but just for people to respect America,” the sergeant said.

“He was a brother,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Haugen, borrowing the term from a group of motorcyclists who attended Holmes’ funeral service in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Haugen said he noticed the bikers had a World War II veterans’ logo on the backs of their leather jackets. When asked if they knew Holmes, the group of men said, “’We didn’t, but he was a brother,”’ Haugen said.

Friends and fellow soldiers in Grand Forks also called him a brother.

“My husband was over in Iraq with him,” said Ann Mason, trying to hold back her tears. “He said he was like a big brother. He was very supportive, a kind and generous person.”

Tim Davis, Holmes’ best friend in Grand Forks, said Holmes was a genuinely caring person. For over a year, Holmes worked with Davis as a youth counselor at a treatment center for troubled youth.

“Everyone always has stories of what a great guy somebody was, but James really was patriotic,” Davis said. “He really believed in this country and he did help people. He did put himself in danger, so somebody could spend time with his baby. It’s not a made-up, after-the-fact kind of thing. That’s who he was.”

Holmes graduated from Centennial High School, in Peoria, Ariz., in 1994, and from Arizona State University in 2000. He enlisted in the North Dakota Army National Guard while attending North Dakota State University.

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven called Holmes a patriot and a hero.

“We have a number of freedoms because all gave some and some, like James Holmes, gave all,” Hoeven said.

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2002   2001

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