Saturday, January 19, 2008

Marine Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff, 20, of Tunnel Hill, Ga.

LCpl Gluff was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 19, 2008 in Anbar, Iraq, while conducting combat operations.

Chattanooga Times Free Press -- The body of a 20-year-old Marine killed in Iraq on Saturday will arrive in Chattanooga today, a moment his mother said will make his family’s loss painfully real.

“The worst part hasn’t happened yet — they’re bringing him into Chattanooga in the morning,” Jorean Betancourt said on Wednesday night. “We’re trying to be strong. We’re still in shock.”

Lance Cpl. James Michael Gluff, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., leaves a wife, Hope Gluff, 20, and a 14-month-old son, Michael Wayne.

“My husband is a hero, a true hero,” wrote Mrs. Gluff on her MySpace page, which she has transformed into a memorial to her husband. “I am so glad my son looks and acts like him. I would not have it any other way.”

Lance Cpl. Gluff’s mother said her son died when the Humvee he was in was hit by an explosive device. Riding in the gunner’s turret of the vehicle, her son was the only Marine killed in the explosion, she said.

“Two or three were hurt bad, but they told me because of his Hummer getting blown up he had saved 25 Marines,” she said. “His brothers (are) what he always called them.”

The family was napping on Saturday evening — Mrs. Betancourt and her 14-month-old grandson in a recliner and Mrs. Gluff on the couch — when Marines rang the doorbell at their home in Tunnel Hill.

Lance Cpl. Gluff, who stood about 6-foot-3 and was known as “Big James,” graduated in 2005 from Northwest Whitfield High School with a dual diploma, which means he completed both college-track and vocational course work, said principal Carolyn Towns.

“That usually means a very well-rounded student,” she said.

He joined the Marines straight out of high school, Mrs. Betancourt said.

“Ever since he was 7 or 8 years old he wanted to be a soldier,” she said. “I begged him not to go, but he said he wanted to go serve his county and protect us.”

Lance Cpl. Gluff was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. He died in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, west of Baghdad.

Darrell Chambers, a Ringgold, Ga., resident whose 20-year-old son, Lance. Cpl. Will Chambers, died in Iraq in July, said hearing about the death of Lance Cpl. Gluff was “a kick in the teeth.”

“He was the same age as Will,” Mr. Chambers said, weeping. “He was the same rank, he was from the same area, they were both stationed at Camp Lejeune, they were both killed in Al Anbar province.

“It just seems like it’s us all over again.”

Mr. Chambers said he and his wife, Kathy, plan to attend services for Lance Cpl. Gluff.

“I don’t know the family, but I’m going to try to find out all the information we can so we can be there for them,” Mr. Chambers said. “We know what those people are going through and our hearts go out to them.”

Tunnel Hill resident Judy McNelley said she didn’t know Lance Cpl. Gluff, but news of his death induced a “deep-down emotional heart-strain.” Her 23-year-old son, Josh, is a crew chief with Marine Squadron VMM-162.

“They’re just all my kids,” said Mrs. McNelley, who regularly sends care packages to deployed soldiers. “They’re all my kids, and they all mean something to me.” Her son is scheduled to go to Anbar Province in March, she said.

Love Funeral Home in Dalton, Ga., is handling arrangements for Lance. Cpl. Gluff’s services. Visitation is scheduled for Sunday, with a funeral and then burial at Chattanooga National Cemetery planned for Monday, Mrs. Betancourt said.

Marine Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff was killed in action on 1/19/08.

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