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James R Wolf


More than 400 people packed St. Agnes Catholic Church on Nov. 15 for the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq.

Army Specialist James R. Wolf, 21, lived life to the fullest whether he was eating pasta or singing show tunes, the Rev. James O’Kane said.

“He touched everyone or someone that is here today,” then gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country, O’Kane said.

Wolf was killed in Iraq on Nov. 6 when a homemade bomb exploded near his convoy in Mosul. He was the sixth person to be killed in the war in Iraq who had ties to Nebraska.

Wolf had recently returned to Iraq after a 15-day leave in mid-October. One stop Wolf made during his leave was to talk with students at an elementary school in Scottsbluff who had been writing to him while he was overseas.

Wolf was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Co. of the 52nd Engineer Battalion of the 43rd Area Support Group, based in Fort Carson, Colo.

During the homily, O’Kane said that he has been told the hardest thing for a parent to do is bury one of their children.

But death is a reality for all, whether they are young or old, O’Kane said. For some, death is welcomed, but for others it acts like a thief in the night, as it did with Wolf.

Describing what he called “giving Jamie some of his own medicine,” O’Kane ended by singing part of a song from the play Les Miserables, in which a soldier is lost in battle.

Brig. Gen. Bill Grisoli of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stationed in Portland, Ore., addressed the family and crowd by describing Wolf as a “real hero,” not like those portrayed on television.

“He learned his caring from his family and from being raised in this community,” Grisoli said.

Grisoli presented Wolf’s parents, Bob and Chris, with the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Following the Mass, the Fort Riley, Kan., Honor Guard fired a 21-gun salute and played taps.


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