CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Service members here gathered at the Chapel of Hope to honor fallen soldier Army Staff Sgt. James M. Wosika, Jan. 15.
Wosika, a reservist with the 2nd Battalion of the 136th Infantry Regiment - a Minnesota National Guard unit - was killed in action Jan. 9 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province. He was serving as a team leader for the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters’ Group Force Protection Company.
The 24 year-old from St. Paul, Minn., is remembered as a leader by the people who knew him best, his fellow soldiers and Marines.
He never expected his men to do something he wasn’t willing to do or had already done early in his career, said Army Staff Sgt. Joshua A. Hatton, of his friend. According to Hatton, Wosika enjoyed helping especially junior service members.
Lance Cpl. Earl T. Peaks experienced Wosika’s generosity first hand when he arrived at the unit as a motor transport operator not an infantryman.
“When he explained things he made sure to break them down so I could understand,” said Peaks a motor transport operator. Peaks needed a refresher on infantry training to include reading maps and radio operation, skills he was familiar with, but had not practiced regularly. “He would do his best to show you (how to do something) as if he was teaching himself.”
“He was always positive,” added the 20-year-old from Little Rock, Ark., who Wosika nicknamed ‘Earl the Pearl.”
Wosika, known to his friends as Jimmy, had a contagious grin, said Staff Sgt. Kelly P. Jones, 39, of Blaine, Minn.
“He made us laugh even when we didn’t want to,” said Jones of Wosika, who volunteered for this deployment. “He chose to come here and fight for people he didn’t know and for a cause that is at times, unclear.”
“He couldn’t stand that we would be here without him,” said Jones, who knows Wosika is still with him. “I am going to miss you my brother… things will never be the same, but I can still feel you here.”
“As I walk for the rest of my life, you will be beside me,” said Hatton. “We have to carry on. We don’t honor his memory if we quit. Hold on to Jimmy’s memory and to each other.”