James Russell Zimmerman
First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1014-10
DOD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
First Lieutenant James R. Zimmerman, 25, of Aroostook, Maine, died November 2, 2010, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
For additional background information on this
Marine, news media representatives may contact the 2nd Marine Division
public affairs office at 910-449-9925.
A Father Talks About His Son Killed in Afghanistan
Marine First Lieutenant James R. Zimmerman was killed in Afghanistan on November 2. Days earlier he told his father he was ready to come home from a tour filled with firefights.
His father Tom Zimmerman of Smyrna Mills, Maine described his son:
"The good thing about James is that he had a resilience that was phenomenal...he never quit. He would bounce back. And that’s what his men over there in Afghanistan told us."
The elder Zimmerman is the principal of Greater Houlton Christian Academy in Houlton, Maine, where Lieutenant Zimmerman graduated from in 2003.
9 November 2010:
Days before death, Marine confided in his father
Maine school, family are hit hard by death
Several days later, on November 2, Zimmerman was killed in a firefight.
“My son knew the reality of what could happen, but he didn’t have that as a fear,’’ Tom Zimmerman, the Marine’s father, said in a telephone interview from Smyrna Mills, Maine, yesterday. “Anytime something happened, he would say, ‘Mom, Dad, we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.’ ’’
The call Zimmerman made to his father days before his death was placed at about 5 a.m. Eastern time. He was in the process of writing 25 commendations for his platoon.
Tom Zimmerman recalled his son as a person who was not exceptionally gifted academically or athletically but who strived to do the best he could. “The good thing about James is that he had a resilience that was phenomenal,’’ his father said. “He didn’t always succeed, and honestly, at times, it was kind of gut-wrenching for us when he didn’t quite make the cut.
“But he never quit. He would bounce back. And that’s what his men over there in Afghanistan told us.’’
Zimmerman, principal of Greater Houlton Christian Academy in Houlton, Maine, said he was in his barn tending to farm animals on the evening of November 2 when a chaplain and several uniformed officers showed up. “I turned around and there they were, and I knew they didn’t come for a social visit,’’ he said.
James Zimmerman graduated from the academy in 2003, and the news of his death was a shock to the school. His mother, Jane, teaches music, and his sister and brother-in-law are also teachers.
His body will be returned to the school, where his funeral is scheduled for Thursday.
Jane Zimmerman grew up in Brockton and graduated from Brockton High School in 1971. She left the state to attend the University of Maine, where she met her husband. James, the youngest of their three children, attended the University of Maine on a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship.
James Zimmerman joined the Marine Reserve at the age of 17, on the first day of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At the time of his death, he was assigned to the Second Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment, Second Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
After Zimmerman’s death, his father received numerous calls from other Marines in Afghanistan.
“His men highly respected him for his character. In his men’s eyes, he’s a living hero,’’ he said.
November 17, 2010
Marine Corps News|by Sergeant Jesse Stence
PATROL BASE SHANFIELD, Afghanistan -- The dust of Patrol Base Shanfield turned to gold as the sun started a long plunge toward the Marjah countryside. As the Marines came forward to pay their final respects, it peeked over hesco walls and snuck under the camouflage netting that covered the place where they knelt in honor of First Lieutenant James R. Zimmerman.
Zimmerman, formerly the commander of 3rd Platoon, Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, received a hero’s farewell here, November 11, 2010.
He was remembered as an unselfish, unwavering warrior who was called to lead Marines.
“He didn’t care about his reputation; he cared about the Marines in his platoon,” said Staff Sergeant Robert Warren, Zimmerman’s platoon sergeant, now the acting 3rd Platoon commander. “There was never any I or me. It was always us.”
“He always protected his Marines,” said Corporal Joshua Carrier, one of Zimmerman’s squad leaders. “Whenever something bad was coming down the wire, he said, ‘If it didn’t come from me, then it’s not official.’ He fought for our best interests.”
Warren called Zimmerman a natural leader. Zimmerman, he said, had the innate ability to draw from his Marines' knowledge to make his own decisions. Moreover, Zimmerman thrived off the excitement of combat. Warren said he smiled from ear to ear for three straight days after his first big fire fight.
“I think Afghanistan brought out his true character,” said Carrier. “He was honest, hardworking and strong mentally and physically. He was a true warrior, and I think everyone looked up to him when we were out there, getting it on with the enemy. You always knew that if Lieutenant Zimmerman was coming out on patrol, it was going to be a bad day for the Taliban. He was [relentless], always pushing forward. And I honestly believe that he died doing what he loved: taking it to the bad guy.”
The possibility of death is a reality that everyone in 3rd Platoon has learned to live with, yet they don’t dwell on it, said Warren. They have developed an intimate bond that only a battle-hardened unit can understand. They live from hour-to-hour during the best times; during the worst, between the fragments of a second that it takes an M-16 to eject a spent casing and chamber the next deadly round.
“I remember the last time I talked to Lieutenant Zimmerman, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it,” said Carrier. “The night of [Nov. 1], Sgt. Dillon and myself were working out with sir [Zimmerman]. It was around midnight when me and Sgt. Dillon finished, and when sir was done, we sat around [talking] for about half an hour. We talked about our experiences out here and the many close calls we all had. The conversation ended by someone saying, ‘We still got a lot of time left.’”
“And we obviously didn’t think it would be that short. He kept the platoon strong through our four prior KIAs and many casualties. He kept us pushing to try and keep our minds off the pain, and it worked most of the time. It’s what he would want this time – for us to keep pushing in his honor and the honor of all our fallen brothers.”
Zimmerman, a native of Aroostock, Maine, was the son of Russell and Jane Zimmerman, and the husband of Lynel Winters.
His personal decorations include the Purple Heart Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Selective Marine Corps Reserve Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the NATO ISAF Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
ZIMMERMAN, JAMES RUSSELL
Posted: 20 November 2010 Updated: 25 November 2010 Updated: 9 February 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, February 2011
Photos By Eileen Horan, November 2010