James M. Gurbisz
Captain, United States Army
RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
November 7, 2005
Media Contact: Army Public Affairs - (703) 692-2000 Public/Industry Contact: (703)428-0711
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 4, 2005, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during convoy operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Georgia.
For further information related to this release,
contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
EATONTOWN, NEW JERSEY - An Army officer from New Jersey has been killed in Iraq.
Captain James Gurbisz, 25, who grew up in Eatontown, was killed Friday when a bomb exploded near his vehicle in Baghdad, the Pentagon said.
He was on a scouting mission with a unit of the Third Infantry Division.
Gurbisz was a star athlete -- captain of the football team at Monmouth Regional High School -- and a top scholar, carrying a 4.5 grade-point average.
He went on to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 2002.
He'll be buried on Monday in Arlington National
To those who knew him as a student at Monmouth Regional High School, James M. Gurbisz was a star athlete, a scholar, a class clown and a leader.
To his family, he was Jimmy — the only son of Helen and Kenneth, and Kathleen's little brother. He was the boy who loved to visit Fort Monmouth and who grew up to graduate, with honors, with a degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"He was a magnet," said Kenneth Gurbisz, James' father. "People were just drawn to him."
Army Captain James M. Gurbisz, 25, was killed in Iraq Friday when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee, according to a Department of Defense statement Monday.
Gurbisz and Private First Class Dustin A. Yancey, 22, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, were killed in Baghdad during a scouting mission of the 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. No other information was available.
Gurbisz, a platoon leader, will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery Monday, Kenneth Gurbisz said.
Gurbisz leaves behind Victoria Gurbisz, his wife of nearly three years. The couple had recently bought a house in Savannah, Ga., near Fort Stewart, where he was stationed. Victoria Gurbisz could not be reached for comment.
A sports-oriented family
Gurbisz grew up in Eatontown, attending Woodmere Elementary and Memorial Middle schools and playing sports in borough recreational leagues. The Gurbisz family was a fixture at sporting events for both James and his sister, Kathleen, now 28, who also was active in sports through high school.
"They were the family you saw everywhere," said Councilwoman Joyce Englehart, whose son, Joseph, played baseball with James.
"(James) was a wonderful young man. He was quite a kid, a lot of fun to be around. He was one of those kids you wanted your kids to hang around."
Gurbisz graduated from Monmouth Regional in 1998. He was captain of the football team during his junior and senior years. He also played varsity baseball, served as president of the student council and held a 4.5 grade point average.
Gurbisz was named an Asbury Park Press' Scholar Athlete in 1998 for his achievements on and off the field.
"He was respected as a student and as an athlete," said Anthony "Bubba" Gaetano, who coached Gurbisz for two years of football. "He was that kid who was the team clown, but he was a leader as well. Kids followed him."
With his grades and his athletic ability, Gurbisz could have gone to college anywhere. He was courted by several Ivy League schools, his father said.
He chose West Point.
His father, an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, wasn't surprised.
As a boy, James loved to visit Fort Monmouth and had always had an interest in the military, Kenneth Gurbisz said.
"That was Jimmy," his father recalled. "That was probably his calling — with all his dedication and all his hard work. He believed in what West Point stood for. And he did very well up there."
Gurbisz graduated from the military academy in the spring of 2002 — the first graduating class following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Kenneth Gurbisz said his son knew it was likely he would be deployed somewhere.
In January 2004 he was sent to Iraq as a Second Lieutenant. He was stationed in Baghdad and rose to the rank of Captain a few months later, leading a security platoon.
"Jimmy didn't believe in doing anything halfway," his father said.
Gurbisz would e-mail his family weekly and called at least once a month. Kenneth Gurbisz said although James tried to shield his mother from the danger he experienced in Iraq, his father knew from his own experience that it was more dangerous than he was letting on.
So when the Army knocked on the door of his Bernard Street home Friday, Kenneth Gurbisz knew instantly why they had come.
"He and his soldiers believed in what they were doing," he said. "He dedicated himself to service of his country."
Kenneth Gurbisz said the loss has been especially hard on James' sister and his mother. He said James' wife is staying with family in Georgia. The family will meet up with James' wife in Arlington before the funeral next week, he said.
"It's one of those things you don't want to
believe, especially for someone who's done so much in such a short period
of time," Gaetano said.
5 November 2006:
EATONTOWN, NEW JERSEY — A monument dedicated to the memory of Army Captain James M. Gurbisz, an Eatontown native killed November 4, 2005, in Iraq, was unveiled Saturday. From the inscription:
"And when our work is done, Our course on Earth is run, May it be said, "Well done!'
Be Thou at Peace"
A community can only do so much to soften the sting brought by the untimely death of one of its own. But it can try.
A community cannot take away the pain felt by longtime residents Kenneth and Helen Gurbisz, whose 25-year-old son, Army Captain James M. Gurbisz, was killed in Baghdad, Iraq, a year ago Saturday. But it can try.
A sampling of the Eatontown community, more than 100 strong, gathered at Wampum Memorial Park on Saturday morning to do what it could to honor the life and sacrifice of the fallen soldier on the anniversary of his death.
A memorial stone dedicated to James Gurbisz, who grew up attending borough schools and playing on borough sports teams, was unveiled as a permanent fixture in the park's Veteran's Plaza. It was what the community could do, and it was a gesture appreciated by the dozen Gurbisz family members who attended.
"This is such a tremendous town, such a close-knit community," Kenneth Gurbisz, a former Army helicopter pilot, said after the somber, 30-minute ceremony.
James Gurbisz was killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee while on a scouting mission of the 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. Also killed in the blast was Private First Class Dustin A. Yancey, 22, of Goose Creek, South Carolina.
Gurbisz was buried last year with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.
Gurbisz, who attended Woodmere Elementary and Memorial Middle schools and played sports in borough recreational leagues, left behind Victoria, his wife of nearly three years. The couple had no children.
Gurbisz graduated from Monmouth Regional High School in 1998 and was captain of the school football team during his junior and senior years. He also played varsity baseball, served as president of the student council and held a 4.5 grade point average.
Gurbisz graduated with honors from the military academy at West Point in 2002 in the first graduating class following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
He was sent to Iraq in January 2004, holding the rank of second lieutenant. He was stationed in Baghdad and rose to the rank of captain a few months later, leading a security platoon.
As the Eatontown Municipal Band softly played just inches away, James' parents gently lifted the black cloth that covered their only son's memorial stone, which was paid for entirely by community donations. Kenneth and Helen took several minutes to read the inscription, their eyes welling with tears.
"It never gets easier," his father said later. "There's always something that reminds you of him."
An invocation and closing prayer were led by the Rev. G. William Evans, pastor of St. Dorothea's Roman Catholic Church.
During the ceremony, remarks were offered by Major General Michael Mazzucchi, commanding general at Fort Monmouth, Representative Rush D. Holt, D-N.J., and Mayor Gerald J. Tarantolo.
Posted: 8 November 2005 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 5 November 2006 Updated: 13 may 2008
Photo By Michael Robert Patterson, May 2008