Manning native/IKM Grad killed in Afghanistan


April 25th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Sgt. James A. Justice

Spc. Zachary Durham

The Iowa National Guard Sunday night announced a soldier from Grimes, 32-year old Staff Sgt. James A. Justice, was killed by enemy small arms fire during combat operations on Saturday, April 23rd, in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan at approximately 10 a.m., local Afghanistan time. Wounded in the attack was Spc. Zachary Durham, age 21, of Des Moines. Both Soldiers were assigned to Troop A, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry, Camp Dodge, Johnston.

The attack happened during rescue operations of a U.S. Army OH-58 helicopter crew who were injured when their aircraft made a hard landing in Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, Afghanistan. Justice and Durham responded to the scene as members of a Quick Reaction Force (“QRF”) and came under fire from enemy forces at the crash site. Justice died at the scene and Durham was evacuated to Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan for medical treatment. No additional information is available regarding Durham’s condition or medical status. The cause of the helicopter crash is unknown at this time and under investigation.

James A. Justice was born June 30, 1978 in Manning, Iowa and graduated from Irwin-Kirkman-Manilla High School in 1997. Justice enlisted as an Infantryman in Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry, Iowa Army National Guard in September 1998 at Denison. He previously deployed to Operation Desert Spring (Kuwait) in 2001, the Multinational Force Observer peacekeeping mission (Sinai Peninsula, Egypt) in 2003-2004, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006.Prior to his mobilization, he was employed full-time by the Iowa National Guard at Camp Dodge, Johnston.

Justice was part of the approximately 2,800 members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division deployed to Afghanistan. These Iowa Soldiers reported to their mobilization station at Camp Shelby, Miss. in July 2010 for additional training and preparation before departing for the Afghanistan theater of operations. The unit arrived in Afghanistan in November 2010, where the Soldiers provide full-spectrum operations in a combat theater, including lethal and non-lethal capabilities, support to Afghan National Army and Police units, and assistance to humanitarian relief initiatives.

The family of Staff Sgt. James A. Justice issued the following statement:

“James Alan Justice meant many things to every person he encountered. He was the funny best friend named “Juice” that could be counted on when needing to be cheered up; the uncle who always knew just what to say and when to hand out hugs; the son who was his parents’ pride and joy; the father who loved his little girl more than anything in the world and couldn’t wait to have more children; and the husband who loved to put a smile on his wife’s face. One thing James was to everyone was the ultimate soldier. He loved the military and he looked forward to every deployment. While we were stunned and extremely saddened to learn of his tragic death, we all take solace knowing that James died doing what he loved best: serving his country beside the men and women he revered and trusted.
Through his four tours of duty, James had many accomplishments but above all, he made life-long friendships. The outpouring of support and prayers during this time from friends, fellow Soldiers and strangers alike has been astonishing, but proved what we all knew: that James was a one-of-a-kind guy and deeply loved by all who had the opportunity to know him and serve with him. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Iowa National Guard for the opportunities they have provided to James over the past 13 years. Additionally, we would like to acknowledge all of his fellow Iowa National Guard Soldiers both at home and serving overseas. May God be with you always.
We are sure that you can understand and will honor our request for family privacy at this time, as we are focused on working with military officials to return James’ body home for military service and burial. We thank you for your thoughts, prayers and kindness at this extremely difficult time. We are deeply saddened by our loss, but extremely proud of the honorable way he served America as a leader in the U.S. Army. We will remember him, his strength, his infectious sense of humor, his faith in God, and his love for his family, friends and country with great pride.”

Funeral arrangements are pending and details will be provided as they become available.