Hermiston Marine dies in Iraq
Lance Cpl. James B. Huston Jr., 22, described as quiet, had planned his next hunting trip with his father
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
A 22-year-old Marine from Hermiston who loved hunting, hard rock music and science fiction fantasy drawings has died in an accident in Iraq.
Lance Cpl. James B. Huston Jr. drowned Friday morning, Iraqi time, after his Humvee slid into a canal, flipped over and pinned him underneath. Huston, the gunner atop the Humvee, and his unit were on their way to secure the site of an explosion in Anbar province, his family said.
Huston's parents, Jim and Shirley Huston of Hermiston, learned of their son's death with a knock on the door Friday.
Huston had once planned to be a diesel mechanic but switched to infantry "to be a full 100 percent warrior who was actually doing something," said Huston's brother, Matthew, 21, who is in the U.S. Navy.
"Our parents were worried, but I wasn't," his brother said Monday. "I always thought he'd come back home and joke about it. I still can't believe he's not coming home."
James Huston was the sixth Marine to die in the past month in Anbar province, a Sunni-dominated area west of the Iraqi capital that has been a hotbed of anti-U.S. resistance.
More than 850 U.S. service members have died since March 2003, the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
Huston is the 25th soldier -- along with two civilian contractors -- with Oregon connections killed in the Iraq war. One Oregon soldier died in Afghanistan.
"We're all very proud of him," Huston's cousin, Cherie Huston, said from his parents' home Monday. "Uncle Jim is pretty devastated."
Huston graduated in 2000 from Hermiston High School, where he was involved with the 4-H Club.
After graduation, he worked for his father's excavating company, operating a jack hammer, among other tasks.
Huston decided to join the Marines in June 2001 but waited until October to enlist so he wouldn't miss the archery hunting season. He learned from his father how to stalk elk and deer, and, along with his younger brother, adopted a slogan: "If it runs, it's done. If it flies, it dies."
Huston returned home for Christmas leave last year.
But before he left California's Camp Pendleton, Huston's commanders told the company's Marines to get their affairs in order "because some of them would not be coming home," Cherie Huston said.
Huston tried to reassure his parents when he shipped out.
"Think of all of the married Marines with kids," he wrote his parents. "Not some punk like me."
In April, Huston told an embedded newspaper reporter that he didn't expect such heavy fighting in Iraq, according to a report in the North County Times of Southern California.
"Not like this," he told the reporter as he sat in a sandbagged pit covered in flies and battle gear. "This is crazy."
Huston's military picture shows a lantern-jawed, clean-shaven solider.
But Cherie Huston said her cousin was a snowboarder who wore short brown hair with the tips dyed blond.
Cherie Huston said she will remember her cousin for all the times he played with her children.
"They loved him," she said.
Huston liked to draw science fiction fantasy pictures -- like artist Boris Vallejo -- and listen to hard rock bands Pantera and Slayer.
"The harder the better," Cherie Huston said.
But Huston never revealed much about himself, even with his closest friends and family, Cherie Huston said.
"James was a very private, quiet soul," said Cherie Huston, a baby sitter and diaper-changer when her cousin was young.
Huston's family gathered at his parents' house over the weekend.
In addition to his parents and brother, Huston is survived by another brother, Shane, 33, of Newberg; and a sister, Shannon Huston Davis, 36, of Galax, Va.
Huston's body was flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday. His family hasn't made plans for his memorial service.
Huston had been awarded several honors, including the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal and the Armed Forces expeditionary medal.
He was scheduled to return home in October, Cherie Huston said.
In a letter home, Huston told his family he was tired of the fighting and ready to hunt again, she said.
He already had planned his next hunting trip with his father.
News researcher Lynne Palombo, reporter Michelle Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report. Ryan Frank:
|Oregon Marine killed in Iraq
HERMISTON, Ore. — An Oregon Marine has been killed in action in Iraq, according to military officials.
In a brief news release, the Pentagon said that Lance Cpl. James Huston Jr., 22, of Hermiston, died Friday in a vehicle accident while his unit was responding to “hostile action” in Anbar province, Iraq.
The military said he was a rifleman based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
According to Camp Pendleton spokesman Nathaniel Garcia, Huston joined the Marine Corps on Oct. 10, 2001. He had been awarded several military honors, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation and the Sea Service Deployment ribbon.
James’s brother Matthew, an electrician in the Navy, told the East Oregonian newspaper in Pendleton that knowing his brother’s death was an accident helps the family deal with their loss.
“I think we all take comfort knowing it wasn’t in his hands,” Huston said. “It was an accident, and accidents happen.”
James Huston had been redeployed to Iraq in March, after being in the country during the first two months of the war and in the Persian Gulf for several months in 2003, his brother told the newspaper.
A Hermiston High graduate, Huston once had worked for his parents’ excavation company, but wanted to see the world beyond Hermiston.
When he shipped out, he told his parents not to worry about him.
“Think of all of the married Marines with kids,” he wrote his parents. “Not some punk like me.”
Matthew Huston said he will remember his brother as an avid hunter, a music lover and an artist. “He was the life of the party,” Huston said. “Everyone that met him loved him.”
James Huston was the sixth Marine to die in the past month in Anbar province, a Sunni-dominated area west of Baghdad that has been a hotbed of anti-U.S. resistance. It includes the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Qaim, on the Syrian border.
More than 850 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq in March 2003, according to the U.S. Defense Department. Included in that figure are at least 24 soldiers with close Oregon ties.
|From the Governor of California:
GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER ISSUES STATEMENT ON DEATH OF CAMP PENDLETON MARINE LANCE CPL. JAMES B. HUSTON JR.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today issued the following statement regarding the death of Lance Cpl. James B. Huston Jr., of Umatilla, OR, who was stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA: "Today, Maria and I mourn the loss of Lance Cpl. Huston. James died in an unfortunate accident while displaying tremendous bravery and representing the best of the United States Marine Corps. James' memory will live on in the hearts of all those who knew him." Lance Cpl. Huston, 22, died July 2 in a vehicle accident while his unit was responding to hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, CA. In honor of Lance Cpl. Huston, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.
|From The Union-Tribune utsandiego.com
James B. Huston Jr.
Marine lance corporal, age 22
July 9, 2004
James B. Huston Jr. joined the Marines in October 2001 to see more of the world and "do something different that had a purpose," said his younger brother, Matthew.
While growing up on a farm in Hermiston, Ore., the brothers enjoyed hunting together for deer and elk in the Blue Mountains in the state's northeast reaches.
"He was my partner," Matthew Huston said.
Besides his love of the outdoors, James Huston liked hard rock music and had a knack for drawing science fiction-fantasy artwork.
At Hermiston High School, where he graduated in 2000, he joined the Future Farmers of America and raised sheep and cattle to show.
While he shied away from organized sports, he was a natural athlete and excelled at snowboarding.
Huston normally was shy and reserved.
"He was protective of his own personal bubble," said his 21-year-old brother, who is in the Navy. "People who were allowed inside that bubble were lucky because they were able to know James."
Occasionally, he would reveal another side of his personality.
"When the sun went down, he could be a clown and the life of the party," Matthew Huston said.
The brother told the Portland Oregonian that Huston initially was interested in being a diesel mechanic for the Marines but switched to infantry so he could "be a 100 percent warrior."
He became a machine gunner and rifleman.
Huston was upbeat when his unit – the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division from Camp Pendleton – received orders to go to Iraq.
"He hated sitting around and just training all the time. He wanted to get over to where the action was," his brother said. "He liked to stay busy."
On July 2, Huston was the gunner atop a Humvee in a unit responding to an explosion in Iraq's Anbar province. The Humvee slid into a canal, flipped over and pinned Huston. The 22-year-old Marine drowned.
Survivors include his parents, Jim and Shirley Huston of Hermiston, Ore.; brothers, Matthew of Hermiston and Shane of Newberg, Ore.; and sister, Shannon Davis of Galax, Va.
– Terry Rodgers