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James L Bridges


U.S. Army


11/04/2006, BAGHDAD, IRAQ

James L. Bridges was a good welder with great mechanical aptitude, according to Shane Stockham, adviser to the Future Farmers of America.

With FFA, he brought so much enthusiasm when we went places, Stockham said. If it was up in the mountains for a retreat, he was up early and stayed up late and made the events more fun for everyone.

Bridges, 22, of Buhl, Idaho, was killed Nov. 4 in Baghdad by small-arms fire. He was a 2003 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Wainwright. In high school, he was known as Doug.

He was one of my favorite students to have gone through the school, said Stockham. Doug was the kid that others went to when they had a bad day. He was an excellent student. He was well-liked by other students, said Principal Mike Gemar. James was a really pleasant kid.

His father, Matthew Bridges, told of how other military parents have contacted his family following Doug’s death. His biggest gift was love, he said. He excelled at love.

He also is survived by his mother and stepmother, Lauri Watkins and Joan Hurlock.

Michael P. Bridges and his dad went to an Army recruiting station during Christmas break 2001. The younger man turned to his father and said, Dad, I’m a lot shorter and fatter than I thought I was, said his father, Terry Bridges. At 5-foot-11 and 296 pounds, he was too heavy to join the Army.

The younger Bridges began walking to his job at a pizza parlor. He started watching what he ate and worked out. A year and a half later, he had lost 119 pounds and signed up.

Bridges, 23, of Placentia, Calif., died Nov. 2 in Taji from a suspected friendly fire incident. He was a 2001 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Hood.

Terry Bridges happily recalls one Thanksgiving when his wife, Sherryl, told Michael to ask some guys over for a meal. He said he’d ask four or five guys who didn’t have family here to come over, he said. The day before Thanksgiving, she asked him again how many were coming. He hemmed and hawed a little bit, then he said, ‘Twenty.’

Bridges was buried in the same cemetery as his grandparents and his aunt, Gwen, who he adored. I know she’ll look out for him, his dad said.


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