Friday, February 16, 2007

Goodbye Jim

Dear Friends, I’ve been getting a lot of heat about not posting for so long. I am truly sorry for that. To be honest, the extension, operations, events and the nut roll going on here all coming (seemingly) at once; I have lacked the interest and motivation to post. Now that I’ve gotten the opportunity to post again, I will continue to keep you updated on this journey.

On January 9th, SSG James M. Wosika Jr. was killed by a VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) basically, a car bomb. This has been one of the most difficult events in my life and I have had a pretty difficult time with this because of how long I’ve known him. He graduated from Highland Park High School in Minnesota and joined the Minnesota Army National Guard in November of 2000 as an infantryman. I had the privilege to have Jim assigned to my squad since he was a private al the way through our deployment to Kosovo. Jim was a truly kind soul that enters your life and blesses it just by being himself. He had a way of making you laugh at the worst times until your stomach hurt.

To give you an example of what type of man Jim was, during the riots in Kosovo (2004) 24 of us, including Jim, were caught in the middle of a crowd of 600-700 rioters in Kamenica, Kosovo. Jim, Joe Melhorn and Rich Nielson dove (literally) into an Albanian crowd that was beating a Serbian to death. They fought the crowd off and treated the man’s life-threatening injuries only to end up evacuating him to a hospital. None of the Albanians would admit the guy because he was Serbian so the three of them plus a Civil Affairs Major drove the guy to the Serbian border to meet an ambulance in order to save the guy’s life. Then they all returned to the melee they left. During the process of treating the guy’s injuries, Jim took a brick to the skull and had to receive stitches but he never stopped. That was just how Jim always was.

Jim was leading a patrol near Fallujah when he was killed. He did everything right, it was just one of those things. Jim’s efforts saved the lives of five of his comrades. I don’t care to go into any further details.

Jim’s funeral in the states was held Friday, Jan. 19, 2007, at 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral of Saint Paul. It was attended by many people that Jim’s life had touched including Governor Tim Pawlenty, GEN Larry Shellito, and the Patriot Guard Riders. Jim was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. A memorial service was held here, in country to allow us the opportunity to say goodbye to him and to see each other. Out of Jim’s original company, a few of us have been sent to different location throughout Iraq due to the job, situation, and needs of the country. It was truly bitter-sweet because it allowed us to talk and laugh as we remembered some of Jim’s escapades, sayings, and stories that had occurred throughout his career with us. His family and friends also held a benefit in honor of Jim and the proceeds ($13,000) were donated to another soldier in the unit, SGT John Kriesel. If you don’t know, Kriesel was the soldier I wrote about in the entry “Still My Friend”. Anyway, it was good to know that Jim’s family was comforted and supported by so many people.

In closing, please visit and read the remarkable story of John and Katie Kriesel. This couple has demonstrated the standard of “for better or worse” in their marriage. This is a picture of Kriesel (on the front) and Wosika (in the background) while we were in Kosovo on a patrol.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Words are sometimes not enough.

Please, please know that i am so very sorry and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.


6:43 PM  
Anonymous mackenzie1975 said...

I too lost a friend in the military just recently. It stings in a different way than if they were back home.
WHAT A HERO. I love that story about kosovo. The world will miss him. My prayers and thoughts go out to YOU. I hope the pain subsides in time. YOU stay are on my mind each and every time I think of Iraq and/or our troops.
Feel free to send me your mailing info and that of the guys that are with you...I would still love to get some people together to send letters and packages to you!!!!!
Maybe that could help just a little bit to brighten up your day!

11:51 AM  

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