Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

James W Cawley

Roy, Utah

March 29, 2003

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
41 Marines SSG

F Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division

Salt Lake City, Utah

Killed during a firefight with enemy forces.

Journal Entry

25 Mar 2003
Early to rise…road to An Nasaryah. Got shot at before morning 08:00. These people have poor manners
[Note: Jim's humor is showing through here]. Road among and after An Nas? was littered with dead Iraqis. These people are fanatics. They attack us with heavy weapons and RPG’s from dump trucks and buses. The dead were terribly mangled. It made me hope for an end to this war soon. It really is an ugly ugly thing. [That is what our father always told us about war.]
At 11:00 1/11's advance got ambushed in -----(can’t find my map to reference). Their company and another got hit. They had 34 marines and 5 vehicles pinned down. We were sent in to rescue them. The marines did well. It was scary. I had to jump out of the driver’s side of the 7 ton when a round impacted close by on my side. [His Marines told us they thought he was John Wayne in the movies and how he led them all. He was put in for a bronze star for this action.] I don’t know how guys did this in WWll for years and years. I hope the diplomats succeed. I will never be the same after this day. God save me. Found one bullet hole in my side of the cab. This one was chest high. I don’t want to die in this place. The name of the town we fought in is Al Gharraf. The scoundrels that fought us use evil tactics. They herded women and children in front of us and fired from behind their human shields. Some women would aid the defenders by exiting buildings with white flags of truce thereby allowing them to move to a new covered position when our fire stopped due to the white flag. What have we gotten ourselves into?


(Pronounced kah-lee)


For immediate release

Sunday, March 30, 2003

Today, it is with overwhelming and profound sadness that we release the news of the death of our husband, father, son, brother and uncle. There is a huge hole in our hearts because of his passing.

Staff Sergeant James Wilford Cawley, was killed in Iraq on Saturday, March 29, 2003 defending the freedom that he so cherished. Jim was a loyal American and believed strongly in the cause for which he fought. He was serving as Platoon Sergeant of the 1st Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 23rd Marine Division.

Above all, and most importantly, Jim was a good father and a wonderful husband.  He always cared first for his wife and children and not for himself. He always cared about people.

He was a very righteous man and wanted to protect his country. He had a very strong sense of right and wrong. He wanted to protect people from “the bad guys” and make the world a safer place.

This was evident in his chosen careers. He served for 12 years in Marines, traveling all over the world. He met his beautiful wife in Okinawa, Japan while serving there. After leaving active duty with the Marines, he attended the Salt Lake Police Academy in 1997 and graduated with top honors, receiving the Top Gun Award for the top marksman in his graduating class and the Blue Shirt Award. This award is presented to the top recruit of each graduating class and he achieved the top scores in academics, firearms, physical fitness and communications.

Jim was then recruited by the Salt Lake Police Department and served honorably as a Detective and member of the SWAT team. He loved his work and his fellow officers with Salt Lake PD.

When disaster hit our country on September 11, 2001,  James knew he would be called back to active duty with his Marine reserve unit to serve in the War on Terrorism. He wrote to his children “…when America was attacked I knew that I would eventually have to go and I was filled with a deep sense of sadness.” He told his brother and sisters that the evening of 9/11 his grief at the atrocity that was leveled at our country could only be comforted by going to his children’s room in the early hours of the morning and holding them tight until he was brought some peace.

Before he was deployed, he left a letter for his son telling him he knew it would be hard for him “…because I had a similar experience. When I was a little boy aged 6, my dad, your Grandpa Cawley was sent to Vietnam during the War there. I remember how much I missed him. But being a child, I didn’t realize how hard it must have been on him, too. But unfortunately I have come to realize just how rough it must have been for Grandpa to be away from his children for a year.”

He loved his work with both the United State Marine Corps and the Salt Lake Police Department. Every day he went to work to maintain the freedoms that we all enjoy.

James also had a strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He loved his religion and served an honorable mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Fukuoka, Japan mission. He knew that this life was not the end and that we will all be together again in a far greater place.

James will be sorely missed by his wife, Miyuki. He was so proud of her and truly adored her. His children, Cecil and Keiko will miss their daddy, their hero and the love he gave them. They will miss their daddy’s bedtime stories as he told them stories every night as they went to bed. He loved his wife and children so much and often said that they were the light of his life. His father, retired SMSgt Cecil Cawley, a WWII, Korea and Vietnam veteran will miss the son that wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. His brother and five sisters will miss his keen sense of humor, his ability to quote from every movie he saw and the way he entertained us all at family parties. His 20 nieces and nephews will miss the love that “Uncle Jim” showered on every one of them, the wrestling on the floor and the uncle in uniform that they all admired and loved. 

We wish the world could have known him as we did.  He was tough and kind, funny and smart, well read and a keen intellect. He was one of America’s finest and brightest. He could have been anything but he chose to be a soldier and an officer because of his strong beliefs. He didn’t back down to be “politically correct”. He was a leader and a professional and excelled in everything he set his mind to.

We have lost a great patriot, a model citizen, a good moral man and fine human being. He was very disheartened before he left to see the anti-war protestors. He would tell us today to love our country, get involved and support President Bush.

SSG James W. Cawley has paid the ultimate sacrifice. He lived life honorably and died valiantly. He strongly believed that the citizens of Iraq needed to be liberated and that the current regime was a threat to our freedom.

We as a family challenge all who love this country and freedom to support our troops. Please fly the flag every day until our troops come home. Our family prays for those soldiers fighting for this just cause. We pray for their families and those that wait at home. We especially lift our voices to our Heavenly Father for those POW’s and pray that they will be treated fairly and returned to their loved ones. And last of all we pray fervently for those who, like us, grieve for their fallen that will never return home.

The words of a song from the play Threads of Glory:


            Freedom has a price, and always it is high.

            Sometimes a man must give all he can, sometimes a man must die

            And give away all his tomorrows, to those of a future day

            Who’ll never understand the sorrow and the price that someone had to pay.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

  –John 15:13

  SSG. James W. Cawley is survived by his wife Miyuki Cawley, his son Cecil T. Cawley age 8 and his daughter Keiko Cawley age 6, all of Layton. He is also survived by his father Cecil M. Cawley, Roy and his parents-in-law Takemitsu and Aiko Miyagi of Okinawa, Japan, his brother and sisters: Debbie (Richard) Seamons of Allyn, Washington; Julie (Randy) Hanson of Roy, Utah; Michael (Sandy) Cawley of Roy, Utah; Susan (Michael) Norton of Mesquite, Texas; Lori (Roth) Antonich of Pleasant View, Utah; and Kimberly (Corey) Coons of Roy, Utah. Also survived by 20 nieces and nephews and 3 great-nieces and nephews and beloved aunts and uncles in the United States and Great Britain. He was preceded in death by his mother Mary Harling Cawley, who loved him dearly.



James Wilford Cawley was born on August 28, 1961 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the fourth of seven children. He grew up in a military family living in both the U.S. and England. His father met his mother while serving in the USAF in London. She was a Yorkshire lass that had moved to London for work.

James was a very quiet shy boy. He grew up listening to his mother’s classical music and learned to love it as an adult. His favorite thing as a child was to play with little green army men. Every Christmas and every birthday the only present he wanted was a bag of green army men. He knew every soldier’s position and could name the gun they carried. Even as an adult when his son Cecil played with his army men, James still loved to play with them as well.

He grew up dreaming of being in the military and fulfilled that dream when he enlisted in the Army at the age of 19. After basic training he took a deferment and served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to Fukuoka, Japan. James loved the Japanese culture and people. After his mission he continued to study Japanese and learned to read and write in Kanji. He changed branches of military service from the Army to the Marines to better his chances of returning to Japan.

He traveled all over the world and was eventually stationed in Okinawa, Japan. While there, he met and married his beautiful wife, Miyuki. They moved back to the U.S. and were soon blessed with a son whom they named after both of their fathers, Cecil Takemitsu.

He left the military to be able to spend more time with his family. After the death of his beloved mother they moved back to his hometown of Roy, Utah to take care of his father Cecil. While there, they were blessed with a daughter, Keiko Michelle. James attended Weber State University majoring in Criminology, and later the Salt Lake Police Academy where he graduated with top honors including the Top Gun Award and the Blue Shirt Award for the overall top recruit.

James served for six years with the Salt Lake Police Department in the Gang Unit and on the SWAT Team. He loved his job and the people he served with. He was known to his friends in uniform as “Jimbo.”

In March of 2001 he reenlisted in the Marine reserves not realizing that shortly after, our nation would be so severely attacked. On the evening of September 11, 2001, the only comfort he said he could feel was to go into his children’s bedroom while they slept and hold them. He knew that he would be called upon to protect and defend our country from the evils that threatened us.

In February of 2002 he was called to active duty as part of Homeland Defense, being stationed at Camp Pendleton, California. It was very hard to leave his family, but he knew that he had to go to defend the freedoms and the liberties that he loved. In January 2003 his mission was changed to Operation Iraqi Freedom and he knew it was the right thing to do to liberate the Iraqi people. James was able to come home one last time to be with his family.

We believe he knew this would be the final time that he would spend with his family. The day before he left, he gave all of his civilian clothes to charity. He spent his final hours at home writing letters to his children. He wanted them to remember all of the things they had done together, and give them advice for the future. His wife and children were his true treasures. In his last hours at home, he sent his sister an email detailing the music he would like performed at his funeral services. He asked for the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling to be read at the services to his children. He gave his Marine Corps roommate last messages to give to his father and family when he was killed. James told him he was glad to serve but his only regret was leaving his wife and children.

While in Iraq he led his platoon to help rescue more than 40 Marines, who were pinned down by enemy fire. In the early morning of March 29, he was taken in a tragic accident, run over by a US HMMWV (Humvee) as he slept for the first time in five days. He gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country and the people he loved.

As you go on with your lives, we hope you will remember the price paid by all those who have given their very lives so that you may retain the freedoms, liberties, and peace with which God has blessed you with. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It was his privilege, dear friends.
AP News

James Cawley served 12 years in the Marines, and met his wife while serving in Japan. He also served a proselytizing mission with the Mormon church in Fukuoka, Japan. Cawley of Layton, Utah, was killed in a firefight in Iraq on March 29. He is survived by his wife, Miyumi, 8-year-old son, Cecil, and 6-year-old daughter, Keiko.

From Scott Fraser 08/25/04

SSG Jim Cawley was a friend of mine and it was nice to read so much about him. I remember when he died so tragically. I remember spending time with him on the rifle range at horno in Camp Pendleton, the man honestly never missed a shot. I remember seeing him every morning in the company office while I mooched coffee from SSG Ivers. I remember talking to his wife at his memorial service at Pendleton. I would have gladly died in his place. I'll never forget him. Thanks again.

Sgt Scotti Fraser USMC
e co. 2/23

To the loved ones of James W. Cawley my heart is broken! I can’t express my pride in such a wonderful person who gave it all. Sgt Scottie Frazer sent me this site and told me of James. Scottie has such a special place in his heart for his fallen brothers and I am thankful he sent this to me. I sit in the reality of war with tears in my eyes as I read about these wonderful warriors. I am a Vietnam Veteran with years of grief for my own fallen brothers, which will always be with me. I will never forget what you have done for our country and me. My flag will always fly in your honor and in honor of your beloved family. My salute to all that received the call I will see you in grunt heaven! I am so touched, God Bless!
Michael G. Castle
2nd Bat 4th Marines 3rd Marine Division
Vietnam 1968-69 “A Magnificent Bastard” 
We went out for beers and a couple of laughs 
Knowin' full well that every bad joke that Jimmy told 
Might be his last 
So we laughed like the world wasn't at war 
Said things to him we'd never said before 
And he teared up as he held up his glass 
He said, boys, if I don't make it back 

Have a beer for me, don't waste no tears on me 
On Friday night sit on the visitors side 
And cheer for the home team 
Drive my Camaro, 90 miles an hour down Red Rock Road 
With 'Born to Run' blastin' on the radio 
And find someone good enough for Amy 
Who will love her like I would have 
If I don't make it back 

We said, hey, man that ain't gonna happen 
Don't even think like that 
If we know you, you'll pull through without a scratch 
He pulled me aside in the parkin' lot 
Said, Amy and me we're gonna tie the knot 
You're my best man, just wanted you to know that 
Just in case I don't make it back 

Have a beer for me, don't waste no tears on me 
On Friday night sit on the visitors side 
And cheer for the home team 
Drive my Camaro, 90 miles an hour down Red Rock Road 
With 'Born to Run' blastin' on the radio 
And find someone good enough for Amy 
Who will love her like I would have 
If I don't make it back 

If the good Lord calls me home 
I'd like to think my friends 
Will think about me when I'm gone 

Well, Miller Lite ain't my brand 
But I drink one every now and then, in his honor 
And we ain't missed a home game yet 
Had that Camero at 110 on Red Rock Road 
When the speakers billowed 
And I introduced Amy to a friend of mine from Monroe 
He's a good ol' boy 
But you know, she just ain't ready

From Service Advisor 1 12/04/07:

This is about Ssgt Cawley of 2nd Battalion 23rd Marines.
I just wanna say thanks to his family, i was one of the 35 marines that were
pinned down at al gharraf. My name is Cpl Hernandez, I was with Alpha Battery
1st Battalion 11th Marines advanced party, our ambush happened at PV169632 
@1017 zulu time on March 25 2003. Thanks to all the Marines of 2/23

Semper Fidelis

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