James D Boelk
October 15, 2010
Killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
|Marine Lance Cpl. James D. Boelk, 24, Oceanside; killed by bomb weeks into his first deployment
Growing up in a military family, he had traveled the world. He joined the Marines last year and had promised to finish college after his five-year enlistment.
November 21, 2010|By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
Lance Cpl. James D. Boelk grew up in a well-traveled military family. But his path to the Marine Corps was not a straight one.
Home-schooled throughout his childhood, Boelk lived in Korea, Iceland, Texas and both coasts of the U.S. before attending Golden State Baptist College in Santa Clara, Calif., where he also worked in security for Google. He talked about becoming a youth leader or doing missionary work, but left college without getting his degree.
Then the secular world beckoned. Boelk moved to San Diego with plans to work and study business. When the job he had counted on to support his studies fell through, he turned to the profession that had sent his family around the globe.
His father, David Boelk, is a retired Air Force master sergeant. But his brother-in-law, a Marine captain, proved a persuasive recruiter and in March of 2009, Boelk enlisted in the Marines. He signed up for five years, promising his mother that he would finish college after his stint in the service.
"He wasn't exactly sure what he was going to do for the rest of his life," said his mother, Cilicia Boelk, of Manassas, Va.
The second of seven children, James had five sisters and one brother. "We are a close family," Cilicia Boelk wrote in an e-mail. "James was there for each of us. He always gave his siblings attention and had fun with them. He called home often and [would] text his siblings daily. He would always say 'I love you' at the end of all phone calls to us. When he was with us he would give hugs, especially group hugs."
Boelk, 24, who lived in Oceanside, liked to surf and make his friends laugh, but he was also a hard worker.
"As one of my Marines I will always remember his work ethic," Staff Sgt. Matthew B. Cartier said in a posting on The Times' War Dead database. "No matter how hard the task, he would put on this half-grin and charge full speed ahead to accomplish it."
Boelk was a rifleman assigned to Camp Pendleton's 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
In September, he shipped out to Afghanistan. A few weeks later, on Oct. 15, he was returning from a two-day patrol in Helmand province when he was killed by a bomb, military officials said. He was one of eight in his battalion who died in the span of a week.
"This was his first deployment. This was his first patrol," his mother said.
Boelk is buried in Quantico National Cemetery in Virginia. In addition to his parents, he is survived by sisters Amanda, Allyssia, Christina, Oressa and Charlynn, and a brother, Timothy.
|Unit in Sangin loses 9 Marines in 4 days
By Dan Lamothe
Nine Marines with a battalion that recently deployed to Afghanistan were killed during a four-day period last week, putting the Marine Corps on pace for its deadliest month in combat this year.
Third Battalion, 5th Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., suffered the casualties, Pentagon officials said. The unit deployed the last week of September, and is patrolling Sangin, a violent district that the Corps took over from British forces last month. The unit replaced 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., in northern Helmand province.
With two weeks left in October, the Corps has lost 15 Marines and one corpsman in Afghanistan this month. The worst months for Marine deaths this year were June and August, with 17 each. Fifteen were killed in Afghanistan in February, when the Corps launched a major assault on Marjah, a Taliban stronghold and narcotics hub.
The 3/5 casualties in October include:
* Sgt. Ian Tawney, 25. The squad leader was killed Saturday by an improvised explosive device while on a foot patrol, Marine officials said. He enlisted on March 14, 2005, and had deployed to Iraq in 2007.
* Lance Cpl. James Boelk, 24. The infantry rifleman was killed by an IED while on a foot patrol last Friday, officials said. He was on his first combat deployment.
* Lance Cpl. Joseph Lopez, 26. The infantry rifleman was killed by an IED while on a foot patrol last Thursday, officials said. He was on his first combat deployment.
* Lance Cpl. Alec Catherwood, 19. The infantry rifleman was shot to death while on a foot patrol last Thursday, officials said. He was on his first combat deployment.
* Lance Cpl. Irvin Ceniceros, 21. The machine gunner was shot to death while on a foot patrol last Thursday, officials said. He was on his first combat deployment.
Four additional Marines were killed last Wednesday in the same IED blast while riding in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, or M-ATV, according to media reports. Those Marines include:
* Cpl. Justin Cain, 22. The machine gunner was on his first combat deployment.
* Lance Cpl. Phillip Vinnedge, 19. The anti-tank assaultman was on his first deployment.
* Lance Cpl. Joseph Rodewald, 21. The machine gunner was on his first combat deployment.
* Pfc. Victor Dew, 20. The anti-tank assaultman was on his first deployment.
Additional details about the deaths were not immediately available, but the Corps said the unit is now based in Sangin in a news release covering the death of Lance Cpl. John Sparks, 23. He was shot to death Oct. 8, becoming the first Marine to die on 3/5ís deployment, Marine officials said.
The most recent Marine casualty announced was Cpl. Jorge Villarreal, 22. A member of Pendletonís 1st Battalion, 11th Marines, he died Sunday from an IED blast while on a foot patrol.
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