Luke Samuel James – Second Lieutenant, United States Army

No. 060-04
January 29, 2004
DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The three Combined Joint Task Force Seven soldiers were killed in an improvised explosive device attack on Jan. 27 near Iskandariyah.  Killed were:

Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, 24, of Oklahoma.

Staff Sergeant Lester O. Kinney II, 27, of Zanesville, Ohio.

Kinney and Luke were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Sergeant Cory R. Mracek, 26, of Hay Springs, Nebraska.  Mracek was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Arlington National Cemetery: Sacred GroundBy Henry Cuningham, Military editorCourtesy of the Fayettville Observer – 4 March 2004


Luke James told his wife, Molly, that if he died he wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery or wherever she was buried.

The Second Lieutenant was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on January 27, 2004, Mrs. James decided to have her husband buried in Arlington.

”He loved Arlington,” she said. He watched television programs about the cemetery, the Old Guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, she said.

The 612-acre cemetery averages 25 to 28 burials daily. The terrain of the land ranges from hilly and tree-shaded to flat and open.

”It's sacred ground,” Mrs. James said. “To be buried there is such an honor.” James is buried next to Staff Sergeant Lester O. Kinney, who died in the same incident.

The sights and sounds of Arlington mingle the bucolic with the urban. There are white oaks and pin oaks. Deer, red fox and Canada geese roam the cemetery. Birds chirp against a background of highway noise, airplanes taking off from Reagan Washington National Airport and helicopters coming and going from the Pentagon.

Section 60

James and Kinney are buried in Section 60, which Arlington has designated for most of the troops who die in Iraq and Afghanistan. The section, in the south-central part of the cemetery, is relatively flat and open. The war deaths have made the cemetery a busier place, with more visitors, heavier traffic, full-honor funerals, bands and flyovers, said Barbara Owens, a spokeswoman for the cemetery.

James was a 24-year-old platoon leader in Company B of the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Because of the danger of his job as an infantryman, the Jameses had discussed whom to be notified if he was hurt or killed and where he wanted to be buried.

”I think it's something all infantry couples should discuss,” Mrs. James said. ”I've never been to Arlington before. It was beautiful.”

Mrs. James, who is 21 years old, said she appreciated ”all the small details that have significance.”

Many of the names on the newer headstones belong to people who served at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, including Staff Sergeant Jamie L. Huggins and Lieutenant Colonel Charles H. Beuhring. Air Force Staff Sergeant Scott D. Sather and Marine Corporal Kemaphoom A. Chanawongse, who both died last year in Iraq, lie beside each other.

Sather, 29, died April 8, 2003, from a battlefield injury. He was a combat controller with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base.

Chanawongse died less than a month later. His was the first Buddhist funeral at Arlington in recent memory, Owens said. ”Along with the military honors that this corporal earned, he also had a full Buddhist monk burial rite done here,” she said. “It was a two-day burial rite with gifts to be offered up the day before. We had the monks come and bless the area. It was a quite colorful time.”

Nearby are victims of a 1969 helicopter crash during the Vietnam War and the bombing of the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen, on October 12, 2000. The Cole was in port for refueling when a small boat filled with explosives was detonated beside the ship, blasting a hole in its side. Seventeen sailors died, and 39 were injured.

The burials range from people who died on active duty to military retirees and their widows. Two presidents – John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft – are buried in Arlington.

Families of deceased service members can choose the section of the cemetery they prefer, Owens said.

”In Arlington, when people see the rows and rows of headstones, it signifies service members standing in rank,” she said. ”You can be laid to rest next to a Medal of Honor recipient, next to a four-star general, next to a private. It doesn't matter here. You are all laid to rest with honor. That's why you are here.”

Services scheduled for 2 Bragg troops

Funeral arrangements have been made for two Fort Bragg soldiers killed by a homemade bomb Jan. 27 near Iskandariyah, Iraq.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday for Staff Sergeant Lester “Buddy” O. Kinney II, 27, in his hometown of South Zanesville, Ohio. The service will be at the South Zanesville United Methodist Church.

A funeral will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday (10 February 2004) at Murphy Funeral Home at 4510 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia. Burial will be at 3 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery.

A memorial service for Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, 24, of Oklahoma, will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday (10 February 2004) at Arlington Funeral Home. Burial will be at Arlington at 11 a.m.

Kinney and James were assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Services were held in Nebraska last week for Sergeant Cory R. Mracek, who also died in the incident.

Mracek, 26, of Hay Springs, Nebraska., was assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 319th Field Artillery Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.

January 30, 2004 12:00AM EST

Fort Bragg soldiers identified

The Pentagon on Thursday identified three Fort Bragg soldiers who died Tuesday in what U.S. Department of Defense officials described as an improvised explosive attack near Iskandariyah, Iraq.

The soldiers, all from the Midwest, were part of Joint Task Force 7 and died supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, defense officials announced.

Two of the fallen soldiers were identified as Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, 24, of Oklahoma and Staff Sergeant Lester O. Kinney II, 27, of Zanesville, Ohio.

Luke and Kinney were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 505th Infantry.

The third soldier identified was Sergeant Cory R. Mracek, 26, of Hay Springs, Nebraska. Mracek was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 319th Field Artillery.

Another Fort Bragg paratrooper was critically wounded in the roadside bomb attack on the 82nd Airborne Division convoy, Brigadier General Mark Kimmit, Deputy Chief of operations, said after the incident.

He said a rescue force that rushed to the scene came under fire from small arms but suffered no casualties.

Oklahoma Soldier Killed In Iraq
Two Other Soldiers Also Killed
January 30, 2004

The mother of an Oklahoma soldier who died when a roadside bomb exploded south of Baghdad said he had an interest in the military from an early age and she was proud when he joined the Army.

Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, 24, was one of three soldiers killed in the explosion Tuesday near Iskandariyah. Also killed were Staff Sergeant Lester O. Kinney II, 27, of Zanesville, Ohio, and Sergeant Cory R. Mracek, 26, of Hay Springs, Nebraska.

James grew up in this town of about 1,500 people in the Oklahoma Panhandle. His father, Bradley James, is a retired Army Reserves Major.

“We all just knew that's what he wanted to do,” his mother, Arleen James, said in a telephone interview Friday. “He wore the Army fatigues. He enjoyed dressing in those. He'd just say ‘I'm playing Army today.' We are talking when he was 3 or 4 years of age.”

James played football at Hooker High School and graduated near the top of his class. He graduated from Oklahoma State University, where he was in the ROTC. He earned a degree in animal science.

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on December 13, 2002. He became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and left Fort Bragg, North Carolina, for Iraq on January 15, 2004.

“We had a couple of e-mails from him,” Arleen James said. “Things weren't too busy and it was cold and he said that he loved us and missed us.

“We are very thankful for the communications we were able to have.”

She said her son enjoyed the camaraderie of the military.

“He certainly died loving what he was doing,” she said. “He always wanted to serve his country.

“We are very proud as parents that he had the attitude he had and wanted to serve.

“It wouldn't have been this mother's choice, but you have to have young men and women willing to preserve the freedom we have. We are glad he was willing.”

James is survived by his wife, Molly James, of Fayetteville. Their son, Bradley, is 6 months old.

He also is survived by a sister, Sharla, 17, and a brother, Kirby, 21.

Bush takes times to console Hooker, Okla., family who lost son in Iraq
12 June 2006

In spite of the presence of a few protestors during this year's Oklahoma State University graduation, there was no political agenda for the visit of United States President George W. Bush.

Bush was guest speaker for this year's commencement ceremony.

The only mention of the war in Iraq during Bush's speech in Boone Pickens Stadium was when he praised the members of the Class of 2006 who were receiving their military commissions, as well as former OSU student Luke James of Hooker, Oklahoma. James, a lieutenant in the 82nd Airborne Division, died in Iraq in 2004.

“We see the spirit of service in the members of the Class of 2006 who've stepped forward to defend our freedom,” Bush said. “In this graduating class, there are 27 new lieutenants who are receiving their Army and Air Force commissions along with their OSU degrees. They're carrying on the proud tradition of service in uniform exemplified by an OSU graduate named Luke James. After earning his commission at OSU in 2002, Luke had the world at his feet; he had a wife and son that he adored. Yet Luke had chosen a life of service. Shortly after arriving in (Iraq), Luke was killed while leading his troops on patrol. He was awarded the Bronze Star. He's buried at Arlington National Cemetery.”

James' parents, Brad and Arleen James of Hooker, Oklahoma, as well as his siblings, Sharla and Kirby James and his grandmother were in the OSU crowd. Each received a special Presidential coin from the President.

Brad and Arleen said they had spoken to the President prior to the graduation ceremonies by phone and again the day of the graduation.

Bush recounted some of that conversation in his speech.

“On the anniversary of her son's death, Luke's mom went to visit her son's grave,” he said. “And afterward, a young soldier came up to her and thanked her for the way she had raised her son. He said that Lieutenant James had saved his life. Luke's mom says this of her son's service, ‘All of Luke's life, he was very dedicated to the concept of freedom. While no soldier wants war, he understood the necessity of war ­ that it can ensure the freedoms we enjoy in America.'

“Luke James is part of a generation who are every bit as selfless and dedicated to liberty as any that has come before,” Bush continued. “And, the future of the United States of America is better because of the character of young Americans like Luke James.”

Luke's father, Brad, has a whole new respect for the President, saying that it meant a lot to their family to have the President personally thank them and other families of fallen soldiers for their sacrifices.

“He even cried with us when we were talking about it,” Brad said. “This President is the real deal.”


Molly James, the wife of Second Lieutenant Luke James of Hooker, Oklahoma, center,
and his mother Arleen James, right, take part funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, February 10, 2004.  Luke's father, Bradley, stands between Molly and Arleen.


Molly James, widow of Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, bows during funeral
services at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004.



Molly James, widow of Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, bows during funeral
services at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004.


 Molly James, widow of Second Lieutenant Luke James, left, is
embraced by her father-in-law, Major Bradley James, during during funeral
services at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004.


An honor guard prepares to fold the U.S. flag that draped the casket of
Second Lieutenant Luke S. James. during funeral services at Arlington
National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004.


Kirby James buries his head in his hands as the American flag is presented
to his sister-in-law Molly James at the funeral of her husband, Army Second
Lieutenant Luke S. James, at Arlington National Cemetery, February 10, 2004.
At left, Luke and Molly's 6-month son Bradley is held by Molly's mother, Robin.


Kirby James, brother of the late Second Lieutenant Luke James,  covers his face
with his hands as the American flag is presented to his mother, Arleen James,
during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004.


 Kirby James, brother of the late Second Lieutenant Luke James,  covers his face
with his hands as the American flag is presented to his mother, Arleen James, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery, Tuesday, February 10, 2004


Molly James, widow of Army Second Lieutenant Luke S. James, is
comforted by her father-in-law, Major Bradley James as she crosses paths with
Luke's mother Arleen during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery
February 10, 2004.


  • 2LT   US ARMY
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/12/1979
  • DATE OF DEATH: 01/27/2004

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