Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Cpl. Evan T. James

20, of La Harpe, Illinois.
He was assigned to Engineering Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Force Service Support Group, with the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center, Peoria, Illinois. Died on March 24, 2003.

James's death is a mystery; the combat engineer (a one-time lifeguard,) drowned while trying to swim the 30-yard-wide Saddam Canal in south-eastern Iraq. "They do all sorts of training for this type of thing," says Sgt. Sean Bontkowski, who served with James.

Source: MSNBC/Newsweek

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Cpl. Evan T. James.


Contributions to the Families of the Fallen


Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

Please report inappropriate messages

"Its been 20 years now. My apologies I haven't stopped by in many years. Its not that I have forgotten but there have been many times I have not been near a computer. R.I.P. Marine, prayers for you and your family. Semper Fi!"
Sgt Z of former 6th ESB Motor T of Phx, Az

"Received a tag with Cpl. Evan James' name after donating to a charity building a memorial. I am a full time firefighter. I will carry this tag on my on-duty key ring. God Bless you and your family for your service and sacrifice. May they find comfort in your honor and service to our country."
Lt. Steve Lemming of Tarrant County, Texas

"I am creating a display to honor all our fallen heroes since 9/11. The statues I have are a cross with a pair of boots and a helmet next to it. There will be four of those with the name of my nephew Matthew Wilson and his three brothers in arms on the crosses who were killed by an IED 1 June 09. Another cross is of a wounded soldier being carried from the field by another soldier. The third one is of a soldier kneeling at a cross. The last one will represent those we have lost to PTSD after they return home. The names and information of each of the over 6,000 soldiers that have died in these wars will be placed on a 4x8 piece of birch and include the following:
PFC Matthew W. Wilson
18 OCT 89 - 1 JUN 09
Age 19 MO

I have reached Evan T. James but can only find the year of his birth. If anyone has the day and month of his birth please post it here.

I am trying to get this done in time for the 4th of July parade and it will then be displayed at local bases/posts and local businesses in the hopes it helps people realize just what this war has cost us in these great heroes and the families they left behind.

I would like to include my condolences to the family of CPL James and encourage any soldier having a problem dealing with the memories of the war to PLEASE contact a battle buddy or a local VA hospital for help. My daughter entered a PTSD program and I think that is the only reason she is still with us today.

Thank you."
Trish Glore of NM USA

"Hey devil not a day that goes by that I don't think of you I struggle with this daily and more so this time of year I miss you thank you for your sacrifice"
Block of Peoria il

"Sgt Z. again. sorry so late for the message. It's March 28th 2016. It's been a hard week for me and I have made the time to make it here. I haven't forgotten on what day it fell. I just couldn't bring myself on writing. I finally got the opportunity today, just to let you know you are not forgotten still. God bless. Marine. Semper Fi. See you guys next year, God willing."
Sgt Z of Former 6th ESB AZ Motor T

"Hello Devil Dog, It's SGT Z. I knew this day was approaching soon, tried not to let it bother me as much. The hardest thing for me, is not only can I remember this day as it was yesterday and will never forget. The other is, it falls on my fathers birthday. Which makes it hard for me to enjoy and be happy. I went to bed tonight, trying to get some rest. As I laid in bed, my heart felt as I was running a PFT, yet not moving, along with a lot of anger. Finally realized today is the 24th of March. As I always do on or about this day, I get out of bed and come visit you and Sgt. Korthaus. It's 03:25 March 24, 2015 here in Az and I can't fall asleep. See you next year Marine. Semper Fi"
Sgt Z USMC former 6th ESB of Motor T Phx Az

"""Its Sgt Z. again. Another year has passed and you are still not forgotten. Just stopped by to say hi in writing, again I cannot fall asleep. These months are still a struggle, it seems like it was yesterday even after all these years. It's 2014 March 25th now. 
"Never forgotten, c u next year Devil Dog. 
Sgt Z former 6th ESB Motor T of Phx, Az""

"It's Sgt Z. again. I just left a message to Sgt Korthaus. 10yrs as of today and it feels like yesterday. It's now 04:05 and have not slept since yesterday morning. I will be praying for all of you today @ church. Never forgotten Devil Dog!"
Sgt Z of AZ

"Never forgotten, c u next year Devil Dog. March 2012"
Sgt Z former 6th ESB Motor T of Phx, Az

"I was not aware of this brave soldier's sacrifice and contributionto our country until I happened to google the intended name of our son, Evan James, just to see if there were any famous people that bore the same name. Reading about this marine's dedication to his unit and sacrifice in the name of freedon only solidified my decision to bestow upon my child a name of honor and valor. My husband is a proud veteran as is his brother Evan, whom we are naming our son after. We are deeply honored to remember this brave marine for his service. Thank you."
Robyn Lorom, mother of Evan James Leon Lorom due 07/28/2011 of Hampden, ME

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to the hero’s Mother, Father and/or spouse. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Almost 2,100 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
This is a gift! We have wonderful sponsors who help with the costs, and want you know that everyone here at Project Compassion does and will always CARE.
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"Today on Veteran's Day, I remember this young man who I remember as just a little boy when I taught him in 6th grade. Mr. & Mrs. James I hope that as each year passes, you find solace in what a good man you raised your son to be."
Alysia of Peoria, IL

"Land of the free...BECAUSE of the brave. Thank you."
ALV of Macomb, IL

"March 15, 2009
To the family of Cpl. Evan James:
Evan gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"It is hard to believe it has been over 5 years since you were taken from us. Today, Veteran's Day, it seems like yesterday. You were such an amazing person and our family has never been the same since you left."
DMK of Macomb IL

"Mr. & Mrs. James,
I am so sorry for your loss. I did not know your son, however I was in 6th ESB. I remember hearing about him and crying, mostly because we had lost one of our brothers and for you, his family. Deepest sympathy......."
Cpl. Gonzales, Erica (littlefoot) of Phoenix, AZ, USA

"Mr. and Mrs. James,
Evan spent his birthday with us and our daughter Amanda, in 2002. We have wanted to share with you about his birthday and I hope it is okay. We went to Applebees and enjoyed a fun time together. Evan and Amanda had said they didn't want cake, so we took a watermelon and cut in down the middle for their cakes. We put candles on the watermelon and made them each blow out their candles. We laughed alot and had a good time. Amanda was due with our first grandchild and her husband was in Germany in the military. She worked with Evan at the health club and he was a great help to her during that time. Robert always called him Evian and they joked around alot. He was so fun and pleasant to have around. He is missed greatly and we always think of him. I hope it has been okay sharing his birthday with you. I cannot imagine the pain you have, but I pray for you and your family. We were very blessed to know him if only for a short time."
Ruth and Robert Bailey of Rosewood Hgts, Illinois

"Mr. and Mrs. James & Family,
Its extremely hard to believe that five years have passed since we (Engr Co C) deployed to Kuwait and were part of the push into Iraq on March 21st, 2003. Its even harder to believe that your son Evan and Sgt Brad Korthaus drowned in that murky canal that bright sunny day at the VIPER Water Production Point only a few days later. Please know that Evan's loss and the events of that day and the days immediately following the incident are often in my thoughts. I will always remember Evan as a dedicated young man and highly capable Marine NCO."
- LtCol Mike McCarthy of Peoria, IL.

"To Evan's family: Evan's name is engraved on the hero bracelet I ordered. Every time I wear the bracelet, I think of the ultimate sacrifice that was made. I have two sons about the same age and I cannot even begin to understand your pain. Know that you can be so proud of your son. we are praying for your family."
ellen garner of enterprise alabama

"Marine Cpl. Evan T. James is being remembered from August 16-19, 2007, at the Davenport Memorial Park Cemetery with all the soldiers that have died due to the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. James name is among all the soldiers listed on flag poles and his name will be read during a service. We can not begin to say thank you in adequate terms to James for his volunteer service for our country. He proudly served this nation and its people with courage and valor. To his parents, thank you for raising a son who was willing to serve our country."
Remembering soldiers of IL

"Just found this site,wanted to tell you again how grateful and proud that i am to be called an American along the side of men like your son.My son Evan James can have no better guardian angel then a Marine.Thank you for raising shuch a great man.I just hope i can be half as good as you raising mine."
Roger Gillhespy of Grand Rapids,Mi

"May 30, 2007
To the family of Evan James. Evan gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"To the parents of Cpl Evan T. James, My name is SSgt Jeffrey L. Murrill. I was the senior water production advisor of 7th ESB and while I was attached to 6th ESB I was the senior enlisted at Water Point Viper. I was there with your son when he died, he was not alone. I have thought of your son often. It has taken me 4 years to write. I just wanted to say that they are most missed and not forgotten. I planned that water point for over 2 months, coming up with every possibility. I am so regretful for your loss. I too mourn your loss. You raised a valiant son. I wished I could have done more, I am truely sorry. I just wrote to the parents of Sgt Korthaus and I shared the same message to them. There are no words that fit, I can not express the sorrow or my feelings. I am... sorry"
SSgt Jeffrey L. Murrill of Camp Pendleton CA

I would like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for our Country. And to your family and loved ones, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy.

Semper Fi Devil Dog!"

"My name is Cameron Schilling and I have started “Portrait of a Soldier” which donates a portrait sketch of every Illinois soldier who has fallen in Iraq or Afghanistan. All 122 sketches will be on display for a Memorial Day Presentation in Chicago, Illinois on May 26-31 at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago. After the ceremony the sketches will be given to the immediate families of the Illinois soldiers. I would invite any friends or family members to come and honor these men and women from Illinois who have given their lives to our country. For more information please contact OperationHomeFront.org at 866-417-8889 which is an organization headed by the Lt. Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois who is in charge of the Memorial Day Presentation. Thank You.

Please check out www.portraitofasoldier.org
To contact Cameron email cameronschilling84@hotmail.com
To contact Operation Home Front call 866-417-8889"
Cameron Schilling of Charleston, Illinois


"To the family of:Evan James I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully, we will meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell, Gateway Community Church, 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington,Ga

"I'll always love and miss you. My birthday (and yours) will never be the same. Every year I will eat a birthday 'watermelon' in memory of you. Thank you for all your help while my husband was away. You blessed my home so much."
Amanda T of Bethalto, IL

"My name is Cameron Schilling. I am a college student from central Illinois. I am the first generation of my family not to serve his country. I am extremely grateful for the sacrifice you and your loved one has given for the United States. I am disappointed by the way the news media has covered this war and the deaths of our youth. The media has stopped listing the names of the soldiers killed in Iraq and people only talk about the soldiers when we reach a specific milestone in deaths. If you just started watching the news today you would not even know there is a war going on. Partisan politics have replaced coverage of our young generation who have traveled to a foreign land in the name of the United States. Whether you believe the war in Iraq is wrong, right, justified or not everyone should pay even just a little more attention to what these young men and women are sacrificing. This is what I would like to do. I want to do my part in honoring these soldiers and their memories. Along with being a college student I am also a budding artist. I draw pencil portraits of local people in my community. I want to offer a pencil portrait sketch to the immediate family of every Illinois soldier killed in Iraq. Please contact me at cameronschilling84@hotmail.com."
Cameron of Illinois

"Thank you, James, for your willingness to serve and the fortune to give your life for the country you love so dearly."

"Semper Fi."
Doc Jones of Seattle

i remember the first day we met and the last day I saw you before you left. Rest in peace sweets. I know that your enjoying Heaven and you are with Christ now! I miss you!
Rebekah of Mahomet Illinois

"To the Family of Cpl. James:
My friends and I have constructed a memorial to the service men and women from Wisconsin and Illinois who have died in Iraq which includes, as of 7/12/05, 112 crosses and Stars of David. We would like your permission to put Evan's name on one of them.
We have called our display "Arlington Midwest" and it is located in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
It is our expression of mourning for the indescribable loss you have suffered for our country.

If you would like us to do this, please email me at ArlingtonMidwest@yahoo.com.

We invite you to visit Arlington Midwest. I can send you directions and some pictures by email.

"As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them."
Marty Preston of Wisconsin Dells, WI

I think about you everyday. I miss you. I wish you were here. I ask myself why have I come back two times and you didn't even get to come back once. I haven't gone to you gravesite yet I just can't bring myself to do it. I know that you would laugh at me for being upset about you being gone but I can't help it. I wish I could talk to you just once so I could ask how beautiful it is up there. I hope to someday see you again we will have to catch up. I love you brother and thanks for being a good friend. Parr out"
Sgt Parr of Champaign IL

"To our large and loving family, I promise to continue serving proudly and honorably and never forget what Evan gave up for this great nation. Being in the military is a tough life and under appreciated one but he will live in my heart and soul forever. I love you all and always remember the wonderful things about Evan."
SSgt Andrew Foglesong, USAF, TACP of Tucson, AZ

""Some of you will go over seas. Some of you will not come back. Thats what Marines do. Marines die. But the Corps will live forever...so you will live forever."
At ease, Marine.
Semper Fi"
RS, Cpl USMC, (Desert Storm) of Orange County, CA

"To the family of Evan James
Please accept the condolences from his namesake in Auckland, New Zealand."
Evan James of Auckland, New Zealand

"OO-RAH Devil Dog,

You made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country and neither your family nor the United States will ever forget that.

Semper Fi"
Mike of Portland OR

"To the friends and family of Evan James:
I would like to express my sincere condolences for your tragic loss. I lost my husband to the war in Iraq on June 4, 2004. Please know that so many people pray for you every day and understand the pain you have had to bare. I will never forget your loved ones bravery, strength, and sacrifice. God bless!"
Sarah Linden of Portland, OR USA

"RIP Marine"
Petty Officer Cawthon of RTC Great Lakes, IL

"Evan was a great man. I got to know him pretty well as i went to school with him. He will be dearly missed and my prayers are with his family. He's always there, and his memory will live forever."
Sgt. Jesse Forquer B-Btry 2/123 FA of Macomb Il

"To Remember Them..In loving Memory..Its been a year..

At the rising of the sun and at its going down, We remember them.
At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter, We remember them.
At the opening of buds and in the rebirth of Spring, We remember them.
At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer, We remember them.
At the rustling of leaves and the beauty of Autumn, We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live;
for they are now a part of us, as we remember them.
Rest in Peace Dear Marine!!!
The Grogan Family of Lakeland, TN

"We Will NEVER FORGET !" As the first anniversary of the death of your loved one arrives;
Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering all your family and loved ones in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Evan, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Evan James was a Most Amazing young man. I know that he found the timing of his deployment to be very bad, as he was dating my niece at the time. I will miss the future float trips with him, and watching him wolf down three plates of food at dinner. He was the first boyfriend of my niece that I could not threaten to beat-up, if he made her cry, as he was solid as a rock, and would pound me easily. So I told him I'd have to shoot him, heh. He had an excellent sense of humor, and made those around him feel like they could do anything. All who knew Evan will always remember him, as he made an incredible first impression and grew on you immediately and strongly. He will be sorely missed. Evan Proudly served, and while he did not want to go, he went and gave his all. I knew without asking that he would volunteer to spare his brother Marines. He is a Hero to me. As we approach the anniversery of his death, please pray for our troops still that are still in harms way, and pray for final victory and the safe return home to their loved ones."
Ron Mueller of Edwardsville IL

"Corporal James, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Thank you Evan James, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"Dear Cpl Evan's family:
I served with your son at the Peoria Reserve Unit for a brief time. I was released from active reserve in the month of Nov.2001 I do remember spending one afternoon talking to your son by his pick-up truck. He was very proud of his Dakota and the exspensive top cover for the bed. I was sadded by the news that your son lost his life. At the time I was still going to Western Illinois University. I was present for his funeral. I am sorry for your lost and Cpl Evans will always be remebered by this Marine.
Semper Fi,
95-01 Cpl. York"
Derek York of Macomb, IL

"The following message was circulated amongst Marines, active duty and retired, in April of this year:


As you can see, I have cc'ed a lot of people on this because I wanted to get the word out as quickly as possible. 1stSgt Berg, GySgt Bontkowski and I went to St. Louis International airport tonight to meet the body of Corporal Evan James when he came in on an American Airlines flight.

When we found out the time and airline of his arrival, Gunny Bontkowski called the Airport Operations to arrange for us to be on the tarmac to meet the body and put it in the hearse.

What happened next would choke up the hardest Marine.

We arrived at the airport and it seemed like every airport cop employed there was around to make sure that we got on the tarmac. The plane pulled up and the casket (in the travel dunnage) came down the ramp and we loaded it into the hearse. As we left the tarmac with an airport police escort, the gate guards saluted.

We then picked up our escorts from the Missouri State Police. We passed by the gate of the Missouri Air National Guard unit and their guards were rendering full honors to our convoy.

The Airport police had blocked off ALL traffic in and out of the airport when we departed. The state troopers were in the lead and in trail.

State troopers had also blocked off I-70 so our convoy would easily get on the highway. The troopers escorted the hearse to Hannibal, MO, where it crossed the state line into Illinois. At that point, the Illinois State Police took over the escort duties all the way to La Harpe, IL.

The police captain of the airport police arranged all of this. Gunny Bontkowski is getting names so that we can send them our humble thanks. Is there any way that LtGen McCarthy or Gen Hagee can send something once we get the names of the people in St. Louis that made these honors possible? They went well out of their way to honor a Marine they did not know from Adam.

Words alone cannot express the pride, humility, and emotions that we felt for Cpl James and the Marine Corps.

Semper Fi, Capt John Bruzza, USMC"
T.K. Kendrick of Madera, CA

"Our prayers are with your family during this difficult time. Thank you brave soldier, your courage and sacrifice will nerver be forgotten."
Ken and Maritza Holley of Pembroke Pines, Florida

"To the family and friends of Cpl. Evan James:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Evan for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Cpl. Evan James:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Evan, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera, of Powder Springs, Georgia

"God Bless you Evan. May you rest in peace and may God give your family the strength they need to endure their loss. You are brave and we are proud to have had you protecting our great Nation. We will always remember you."
Cindy of CA

"when we look up at the sky at night, and see the brightest star, we will think of you and all the brave Marines that fought to protect our freedom. We will never forget you Marine..Never. RIP...Semper Fi"
The Taylors, USMC of North Carolina

"Its not a mystery, God Just wanted his Angel back."
Natasha of Ft. Campbell KY

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on