Friday, July 23, 2010

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin

Remember Our Heroes

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin, 20, of El Paso, Texas

Pfc. O'quin was assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Fort Campbell, Ky.; died July 23, 2010 in Orgun-E, Afghanistan, from drowning when he was swept away by the current when a levee broke near his military vehicle in Paktika, Afghanistan.

An Army soldier from El Paso who was less than two weeks from leaving his post in Afghanistan to be reunited with his pregnant wife died Friday.

Pfc. James O'Quin, 20, died when a levee broke near his military vehicle in Paktika, Afghanistan and currents strong enough to overturn cars swept him away, the Department of Defense and officials at Fort Campbell, Ky., said.

O'Quin joined the Army in October 2008 and was assigned to Fort Campbell in February 2009. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team and 101st Airborne Division.

Patricia O'Quin, his wife of one year from Fabens, said her husband was supposed to be home on Aug. 5. "We just wanted to spend a lot of time together," said Patricia O'Quin, who is more than eight months pregnant. "We were looking forward to having our baby."

She said she met her husband in high school while attending the Center for Career and Technology Education her senior year. She said her school, Fabens High School, and his school, Andress High School, took students to the technical school for their senior year.

She said they were in different classes, but immediately hit it off once they met. "I just saw him and thought he was so cute," Patricia O'Quin said between tears. "We just celebrated our first anniversary."

Patricia O'Quin said both graduated high school in 2008, and were married about a year later. She said both were very excited about having their first child. She said she had been telling her unborn son to wait until his father made it home before being born. She said they had even decided on a name for their son. "He picked it, it's Denzel," she said. "We decided the baby is going to be named after his favorite actor, Denzel Washington. His baby is lucky to have a dad like him."

She said her husband's family will always be a part of her and her unborn son's life. "He's going to be a very loved baby," she said.

Patricia O'Quin said she always knew the Army was something her husband wanted to be a part of. She said he was in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps all four years at Andress.

"He always loved the military," she said. "He said he wanted to do good for other people and if he got the chance to make things better in the world, he was going to do it."

She said one time he told her about some experiences he had overseas that made being deployed and away from his family worth it. "He told me the best times were when people (in Afghanistan) walked up to him and thanked him," she said. "He said they told him they would feel safer walking on the streets while they were there."

She said while he was deployed, she talked to him periodically. She said last Sunday was the last time they talked. She said it was comforting to know he was doing something he loved and she respected him for following his dreams. "I was worried, but I knew it made him happy," she said. "He told me that was life."

Patricia O'Quin struggled to find words to express the way she felt about the man she loved. "He loved making me laugh, and if he could do anything to help someone, he would," she said. "He was a great man, my family and his family are very proud of him."

Patricia O'Quin posted on her Facebook: "Never take freedom for granted (because) it's not free, it has a really high price."

His awards and decorations included the Army Good Conduct Medal; NATO Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; and Weapons Qualification: M4 (expert).

Army Pfc. James J. O'quin was killed in action on 7/23/10.

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