By Josh Hester
CUBA Family and friends of a former Cuba and Bourbon resident are in mourning.
An official release from the Department of Defense listed James “Jimmy” Summers as one of five soldiers killed in action on May 28, in Abu Sayda, Iraq.
According to the press release from the DoD, Summers and four others died of wounds suffered when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.
Summers, 21, grew up in Bourbon and Cuba before joining the Army and being assigned to Ft. Hood, Texas, in 2005.
The City of Bourbon has established a memorial at the intersection of Main Street and Route 66, where on Saturday evening the city residents gathered for a candle light and memorial service.
In June of 2005, Summers married the former Beth Bridgeman, of Cuba, and the two had lived in Killeen, Texas, since their marriage.
A member of the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Summers had recently spent two weeks at his home in Texas, before returning to duty in Iraq.
Family members informed Three Rivers Publishing that Summers began his return trip to Iraq around May 19, and actually spent time at Camp Anacondaa rest and relaxation point for soldierswhere he had spent time with his brother, Mike, who was stationed at the fort.
Summers had only been back at his forward operations base for three days before being killed in action.
Summers’ younger brother, Tom, spoke with TRP last week calling his brother a hero.
“I always knew it could happen, but I never thought it would happen,” he said. “He’s my hero; he’s everybody’s hero. He is a hero.”
Reports indicate that Summers was part of a rescue mission heading to the crash site of a downed Apache helicopter. In route to the site, the Bradley vehicle that Summers and his unit were in was struck by an IED.
Early reports from other news agencies have identified Summers as having the rank of specialistsomething that TRP has not officially published.
The release from the DoD identified Summers as a corporal, but family members have indicated that due to the mission additional rank promotions are possible.
Mike Summers, the elder brother who is a sergeant in the Army National Guard, is escorting Summers’ body home.
Currently, Summers’ remains are at a military processing center in Delaware, and it could be next week before the body is transported home.
Kara Bridgeman, Summers’ mother-in-law, told TRP that the processing centers were backed up because of the recent amount of casualties.
“The military wants to make sure that every soldiers remains are handled with respect and to the absolute best of their abilities,” she said on Monday. “The men stationed to this detail see it as their last chance to perform a service for their fellow soldiers and will do everything in their ability to make sure that it is done right.”
Bridgeman said that because of the timeline, there was no set date as to when the remains would return to Crawford County.
“The body transport is being handled by the Army,” she said, “with full honor escort of which Mike is a part.”
Because of the situation, funeral arrangements have not been made, but Bridgeman said that her daughter has chosen to have her late husband’s funeral with full military honors.
A statement released by the family on Monday read, “Jimmy was doing exactly what he wanted and what he loved. He was an excellent soldier, he was proud of being a soldier and he was proud of the job the troops are doing over there, especially improving the lives of the childrenthat was very dear to his heart.
“He was a man of honor, respect and integrity, someone we can all be proud of. We find proof that God intended all along to take Jimmy early in that he had accomplished so much so quickly and touched so many, many lives from childhood friends and acquaintances, through his teen years and into the man he later became as a soldier.
“Anyone wishing to show respect for Jimmy and his family is asked to wear or display red, white and blue ribbons as he would not have wanted black.”
The release also indicated that Beth Summers’ and her late husband’s financial needs are being covered by the Army for the foreseeable future. Individuals who have already taken up collections or those wishing to contribute in Summers’ honor may do so through The James Summers III Memorial Fund at any of the Peoples Bank locations.