PLANT CITY, FL, USA U.S. Marines LCPL, WPNS CO, 3D BN, 5TH MAR, RCT-1, 1ST MAR DIV, CAMP PENDLETON, CA FALLUJAH, IRAQ 12/23/2004
James R. Phillips couldn’t wait to return to his two great loves: his family and his car.
His family couldn’t wait for him to get back, either, postponing celebrations for Christmas and Thanksgiving. “You’re not going to miss out on anything,” his mother told him.
Phillips, 21, of Plant City, Fla., died Dec. 23 during the assault on Fallujah. He was based at Camp Pendleton and hoped to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“He went from baby to boy to Marine,” said Ronald Tew, a lifelong friend. “Everyone loved him. He will be missed.”
Phillips graduated high school in 2001 and his father said he loved to fish, hunt, ride four-wheelers and work on his car – a poppy orange 1965 Ford Mustang.
Rachel Cundiff, a friend of Phillips’ since both were eighth-graders, said he was always upbeat and would shower her with kind words that brightened her day.
“He was an awesome person to be around,” she said.
Phillips is survived by his parents, Mike and Lisa. Next Christmas, the Phillipses said they will put up a tree and ornaments to celebrate James’ life.
The only child of Mike and Lisa Phillips was buried Thursday in a tranquil, rural cemetery, where generations of veterans before him had been laid to rest. Family members, friends and fellow Marines by the dozens said goodbye to Lance Cpl. James Ronald Phillips, killed two days before Christmas by insurgents in Iraq.
His mother wept openly when Marine Lieutenant Colonel Keith Moore presented the Phillipses with a Purple Heart medal awarded to their 21-year-old son for mortal wounds suffered in combat.
The Reverend Jim Brady offered words of comfort to those who gathered on the sunny day at Pleasant Grove Cemetery off Turkey Creek Road. Brady drew on biblical promises of heaven, where there is “no more death or mourning or pain.”
“God is our refuge and our strength.”
Phillips was buried nearly in the shadow of a Southern magnolia. Graves in the cemetery, partially under a canopy of magnificent live oaks, include those of a Civil War cavalryman, World War II veterans and a Vietnam War sergeant. All of them died after their wars had ended.