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Remembering the fallen

A tribute to troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

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James Richard Wolf

Killed on Nov. 6, 2003

An overflow crowd of more than 500 gathered at St. Agnes Catholic Church to bid Army Spc. James "Jamie" Wolf a final - and patriotic - farewell.

The 21 - year - old Wolf was killed Nov. 6 near Mosul in northern Iraq when a roadside bomb planted by rebels exploded as his convoy passed by. He was the sixth Nebraska war death since hostilities began eight months ago.

Wolf's parents, brother and two sisters invited mourners to wear red, white and blue rather than black in celebration and tribute to U.S. troops around the world.

The church was awash with the national colors. Red, white and blue bunting was draped across the wall behind the altar. Several people showed up in stars - and - stripes vests. Women wore red blazers and sweaters. Men arrived in red parkas and sport coats.

A Knights of Columbus honor guard reinforced the patriotic theme in escorting Wolf's casket in their distinctive attire of tuxedo, cape, feathered hat and a sash of red, white and blue. Wolf was a member of the Knights of Columbus.

Family and friends embraced the memory of a lanky young man who while home on leave in October told of finding pride and rewards in helping the Iraqi people rebuild their country.

"Jamie worked side by side with Iraqis, and they learned from each other," said Chris Wolf, his mother. "He enjoyed it because people appreciated what they were doing, and he was putting his training to work."

Wolf was a surveyor with the 52nd Engineer Combat Battalion connected with the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. During his eight months in the war zone, he helped build an orphanage, a school, and housing for Iraqis and Kurds.

Brig. Gen. Bill Grisoli, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Northwest Division, who spoke at the service, said it was easy to see where Wolf learned to be a selfless, caring soldier.

Grisoli said he saw it in Wolf's family. Wolf's father, Bob, who manages a tire store, is the local leader of the Knights of Columbus. His mother runs a foster grandparent program.

Grisoli said he saw it along the streets of Scottsbluff, where flags waved at half - staff.

"This is the heart of America ... it's folks that care," Grisoli said. "This young man cared, and that's why he served. He's a true American hero."

Grisoli presented the Wolfs with an American flag that draped their son's casket. A joint honor guard from Fort Riley, Kan., and Fort Carson, Colo., provided full military honors, including the firing of a volley and the playing of taps.

A native of Spokane, Wash., Wolf grew up in Scottsbluff. He enlisted in the Army during his senior year at Scottsbluff High School and went into active duty after graduating in 2000.

Wolf was 6 - foot - 5 and relished singing show tunes and joking. He had a passion for mashed potatoes, video games and back - yard basketball.

In his homily, the Rev. James O'Kane, who knew of Wolf's love of breaking into song, said it was his turn to surprise Wolf.

Standing at Wolf's casket at the front of the church, O'Kane sang a few lines of Jean Valjean's prebattle lament over the sleeping figure of the young man who would be his son - in - law in the musical "Les Miserables."

"Bring him peace," O'Kane sang. "Bring him joy. He is young. He is only a boy. ... Bring him home."

Wolf's remains were cremated after the service.

Halftime tribute at Memorial Stadium

Seven Nebraskans killed in military service this year were honored Saturday at Memorial Stadium - built to honor World War I war dead - during halftime of the Kansas State - Nebraska game.

Photos and names of the seven were displayed on the big Husker Vision screens, the crowd observed a moment of silence, a Black Hawk helicopter did a flyover, and fireworks were set off north of the stadium.

Those recognized: Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Bader, a York native; Army Spc. Nathaniel A. Caldwell, a former Omahan; Marine Capt. Travis A. Ford of Ogallala; Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David J. Moreno of Gering; Army Staff Sgt. Christopher W. Swisher of Lincoln; and Army Spc. James Wolf of Scottsbluff, all who died in Iraq; and Blake C. Kelly of Columbus, who died in Bosnia.

The First Squadron - 167th Cavalry of Army National Guard, which left Nebraska for Bosnia more than year ago and is known as Task Force Husker, also was saluted.

All veterans were remembered in a pre - game observance.

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