Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Marine Lance Cpl. James B. Stack

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. James B. Stack, 20, of Arlington Heights, Ill.

LCpl Stack was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Nov. 10, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

A Marine from the northwest suburbs has become the latest casualty in Afghanistan. Twenty-year-old Lance Corporal James Stack of Arlington Heights died Wednesday while conducting combat operations.

While contemplating a career in the United States Marine Corps, a young man from Arlington Heights was asked six years ago if he was prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He'd said he was, and this week he did.

Lance Cpl. James B. Stack was shot and killed Wednesday -- the Corps 235th birthday -- while on foot patrol in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. He'd been in the country for just one month.

At 20 years old, Stack was a son, a brother, a new father and a husband.

He was a rifleman in India Company 3/5 Marines in the 1st division serving in Sangin in Helmand province, considered one of the most violent places in Afghanistan, according to The Associated Press.

“It sounded like he was fired on every day,” said his father, referring to James Stack’s letters. “He saw men blown to pieces. One man died as they were evacuating him. James helped put him in the helicopter and watched him die.

“He said one minute you would be having a good time with your friends and joking around, and the next day they were gone.”

The Marine told his family that being based near a river was a great stress reliever. Known as an outdoorsman from his days spent on the central Illinois farm owned by his grandfather, Gene Bray of Long Grove, James Stack enjoyed sitting by the river in Afghanistan and swimming and fishing in it.

In his last letters he commented that he had made it through another day, and he wasn’t afraid. “I can shoot better than they can, don’t worry about me, I’m coming home,” James Stack wrote.

Robert Stack praised his daughter-in-law, who he said had been living at Camp Pendleton north of San Diego but was visiting her family in this area when she got the news.

“Katie has demonstrated qualities we can all be proud of,” he said, “with a young child and to be separated from her husband by a tour of duty.”

Katelyn attended both Prospect High School and Christian Liberty Academy.

His father on Thursday recounted a meeting his son once had with the family's friend and pastor. The man, himself a Marine veteran, asked the then-14-year-old boy if the military was something he really wanted to join.

"James, are you prepared to meet your savior, are your prepared to die?" Stack's father, Bob Stack, recalls the pastor asking his son. The boy said he was, saying that he saw a Corps as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself. He finally enlisted in April 2009.

His Chicago-area family is heading to Delaware to be there when his body arrives from overseas. Stack leaves behind a wife and 1-year-old daughter. He was sent to Afghanistan one month ago.

"We had a certain friendship, and I'm so thankful for that. I got a letter from him the other day. He wrote that down. He considered me not just his dad, but he considered me to be his friend. That was something that meant so much to me," said Bob Stack, father.

Relatives and friends hugged the Marine's mother Linda and 16-year-old sister Megan Thursday night. "He was always there when you needed him, and he never let you down," said Megan Stack in tears.

Stack's family plans to help his wife, Katie, and daughter, Mikayla. "She is surrounded by people who love her, and we're going to be here with her, " said father Bob Stack.

Signs of military pride, including a blue star which signifies an active-duty member, decorate the Arlington Heights home where Stack grew up and was home-schooled. There is a bumper sticker, flags- and his family has a message.

"Let our troops know that we appreciate what they're doing. No matter what, they need to hear that and it means a lot to them," said Bob Stack. "I think he was really persuaded that he had an opportunity with the Marines to be part of something bigger than himself. Marines are special, very special people, and he wanted to be a part of that."

Stack's father says they are honored to attend the somber event and know his spirit is elsewhere. "My son is with the Lord. His soul is what lives forever. His soul is with the Lord," said Bob Stack.

Stack also enjoyed the outdoors. He was a hunter, fishermen and champion air pistol shooter.

James Stack also played soccer with Christian Liberty and was named Most Valuable Player on the school’s track team. He was homeschooled with the Christian Liberty Academy curriculum while residing in Arlington Heights.

Lance Corporal James Bray Stack leaves a wife, Katelyn Landeweer Stack, also from Arlington Heights; their 1-year-old daughter, Mikayla; and his mother and father, Linda and Robert Stack. James also has a 16-year-old sister, Megan.

Marine Lance Cpl. James B. Stack was killed in action on 11/10/10.

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