A Tribute To James Wickliff
Today I’m taking a break from writing about news or opinion to pay tribute to a friend of mine- a man who lost his life in the Global War On Terror. As you’ve probably assumed from the title, the man is question is James Wickliff. James passed away 20 September 2013 from a rare fungal infection he contracted from the soil after an IED blast near Pul-E-Alam, Afghanistan.
I met James back in 2011, when we were both undergoing selection for our unit’s sniper section, which we were both selected to serve in. Admittedly, almost immediately I thought James to be a quite eccentric fellow; his hobbies were anime, going to raves, cartoons and a plethora of other things I thought to be childish.
Shortly after though I learned there was much more to James than I had initially assumed, he had this overwhelming desire to find his purpose in life. We’ve had many talks where he seemed almost tormented by the thought that he was uncertain of his ultimate place in the universe. Along the way James got in some trouble on post and was asked by our CSM if he still wanted to be a soldier, to which James replied yes.
Saying “yes” landed James, along with the rest of 4IBCT 3ID in Afghanistan in 2013.
On August 12th 2013, an IED blast hit his patrol, injuring him; although his wounds were survivable James spent the next 40 days watching doctors amputate piece after piece of his body due to the fungal infection. First it was his left leg, then it was part of his left arm, and then it was his right leg, and finally, his left pelvis. James then contracted pneumonia, and it became apparent that he would not survive this ordeal- 40 days after it started, it was all over.
James was born in Venezuela, and moved to the United States with his family to escape the rule of Hugo Chavez. He graduated from Edmond Santa Fe High School with grades that could have gotten him into almost any college of his choice. Instead, James served honorably, leaving lasting memories with all those he encountered. He is a personal hero of mine, and one I won’t soon forget.
Spc. James Wickliff
6-8 Cav 4IBCT 20SEPT2013
Until Valhalla, brother