Dennis James Jr
August 31, 2011
Killed when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device in Wardak province, Afghanistan..
|From The Orlando Sentinal orlandosentinal.com 09/02/11:
Deltona soldier killed in Afghanistan planned for career in the military, family says
U.S. Army Spc. Dennis James Jr. died on Wednesday, officials said.
September 2, 2011|By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
Spc. Dennis James Jr. loved working on his car, family said, and he had a passion for sports. But just three years into his service, he'd already decided that his future was in the military.
"He was going to make his career in the Army," said his aunt and guardian, Rhonda Williams of Deltona.
That career was cut short Wednesday in Afghanistan's Wardak province. James was killed when his unit was attacked by insurgents with an improvised explosive device, defense officials said.
Reached Friday night at her home, Williams described her nephew as a generous and kind man with a sense of humor, who loved to play basketball with his much taller cousins.
"You couldn't tell him that he wasn't the big dog of the group," Williams said. When he wasn't driving to the hoop, he was working on his car — "the Dodge Magnum with the big wheels," Williams said.
She said James ran track and played basketball and football while a student at Pine Ridge High School in Deltona. After graduation, she said, he set his sights on the service.
Officials said James joined the Army in June 2008. He was a driver with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division based at Fort Polk, La.
His unit deployed to Afghanistan in October in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, officials said.
His awards and decorations include a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, an Army Achievement Medal and an Army Good Conduct Medal, among others.
He leaves behind his aunt and uncle, his cousins and six siblings. His older brother Michael, Williams said, is also serving in the Army in Afghanistan.
The news of James' death comes just a day after officials reported that U.S. Army Pfc. Alberto L. Obod Jr. of Orlando had been killed last weekend in a vehicle rollover in Kandahar.
|From doublemeatjames (internet blog)
Tl;dr - Heroics by DJ earned my schools first ever football playoff berth.
I didn't serve with him, though I do serve now. I grew up playing football with him. I was a Defensive Tackle/Offensive Tackle and DJ played Strong Safety. Our senior year, 2009, we were in the running for a playoff berth.
If we won our final game against the Hagerty Lions, it would be our schools first football playoff game - ever. Cut to the fourth quarter, it's tied up at 21. The Lions are at our 45 with two and a quarter to play. Pass play, one of our ends, Trevor Perkins, get great pressure and forces a bad pass on a post route. DJ undercuts the ball and intercepts it.
Our defensive coordinator had us run interception plays a lot in practice, to help us transition from defense to blocking. Because of this, we were able to secure a solid running lane for DJ and he took it to the house.
Little under two when Hagerty sends their offense back out. Coach calls a safety blitz. DJ was to blitz directly to my left. This confused the hell out of the lineman and we both went unblocked. I got the sack-strip, DJ picked it up and took it to the house again to secure our victory.
It was the crowning moment of our football careers. The crowd rushed the field. It was great. Watching tape the next week, I remember our head coach saying Friday Night Lights couldn't have written a better ending to that game.
We went on to lose 28-14 against Orange Park in the first round, but our team will always have that game. Hell, our school always will. And it's because of DJ.
DJ uses his powers of suaveness to keep us all from being arrested at his going away party.
Just thought of this one. A few weeks before DJ was set to ship for basic, we threw him a going away party. AKA a kegger with only 18 and 19 year olds there. The party goes into the wee hours of the night and eventually the cops get called. DJ, myself, and two other friends, Ben and Jake, head to the front to talk to the cops.
DJ was always a smooth talker. Drunk, sober, whatever. He was one suave motherfucker. We start talking to them and they ask the questions you'd expect them to. Throwing a party, huh? Is everyone of age? Is there any adults here? With those questions alone, we talked for probably thirty minutes. Keyword; talked. Like I said, DJ was as smooth as butter. He was polite enough to make up for the three of us and smooth enough to keep the cops in a good/cheerful mood.
Finally, they ask; what the occassion, boys? Ben blurts out that DJ is set to leave for Army basic training pretty soon. They look at each other with that knowing look. The one you give a pal when you guys have the same thought.
Looking at DJ, one of the officers says "Pack it up, get rides for everyone. We're doing this because of what you'll be doing for us. Don't make us come back."
Even if we didn't have that excuse to fall back on, I'm one hundred percent confident DJ could of convinced them to let us shut the party down with no consequences. He was that good.
We shook their hands, wished them a good rest of their shift, and kicked everyone out. I don't really remember much else from that night.
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