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Body of Soldier Who Died in Afghanistan Returns Home

Aug. 20, 2008 — The mortal remains of Staff Sgt. Errol James, who died Aug. 4 while serving his country in Afghanistan, arrived back home on St. Croix Tuesday, carried on a C-17 Globemaster military jet.
James, 29, was assigned to the 527th Military Police Company, 709th Military Police Battalion, Grafenwoehr, Germany. He died of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident at Forward Operating Base Torkham in Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife Eva, son Elijah and other family and friends.
Soldiers and airmen of the V.I. National Guard were in tight formation Tuesday, demonstrating their esteem and honor for the sacrifice of their comrade through rigorous adherence to time-honored ceremony. Their orderly, choreographed motions whistled against the dark, beseeching the calm sky to stop and pay attention; a soldier has fallen.
James' family and friends were there to welcome him home, wearing shirts with his picture on the front, said Capt. Laurie Bohlke of the V.I. National Guard. Gov. John deJongh Jr., Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and Delegate Donna M. Christensen were there to offer their honor and support, too. The remains were escorted off the aircraft and through the formation while the family cried and held one another in comfort, Bohlke said. The family was given a moment with their loved one before the body was taken to James Memorial Funeral Home.
"We, as military members, take pride in being able to honor our fallen comrade, who fought to defend our rights and freedoms as American Citizens," Bohlke said. "Although the circumstances are very sad, it is an honor to bring him home today. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
The governor offered condolences on behalf of himself, his wife, family and the community.
Peter Geren, secretary of the Army, gave Adjutant General Renaldo Rivera the tasks of receiving James' body upon his return and serving at James' funeral.
"My heart is torn," Rivera said in a brief statement issued by his office. "I too am a parent. My responsibility is to ensure that all aspects of a military funeral is adequately supported, to include military honors and posthumous award presentations which are to be executed in a dignified, respectful and professional manner, in keeping with the family's wishes."
There will be a viewing at 1 p.m. Thursday at Friedensfeld "Midland" Moravian Church in
Estate Glynn, St. Croix. The funeral will follow at 2 p.m. James Memorial Funeral Home is handling the funeral arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Frederick Martin School of Theology at the church.
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