Family and friends of a western Iowa solider are mourning the loss of the young man they say died to soon. The Department of Defense confirms that Sergeant Jamie Skalberg died during a combat operation supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Skalberg and another soldier died June 27th in Afghanistan from wounds they suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle with an IED.
Sergeant Skalberg grew up in the small western Iowa town of Emerson where today everyone was shaken up about his death. The 25 year-old leaves behind his wife and high school sweetheart Jessica, and an 11 month old son Carter. Jamie was just 2 weeks from returning to Iowa for his leave.
“We're obviously proud of people willing to serve their country and everybody is proud of Jamie what he was willing to give up for the United States,” says high school coach Kevin Schaefer.
Jamie is a 2005 graduate of then Nishna Valley high school near Hastings, Iowa and joined the Army in 2007. This was his second tour of duty, after deploying to Iraq in 2008.
Jamie is the second soldier from Nishna Valley to die serving overseas in last few years.
A memorial at the high school honors graduate James Kearney. Sgt. Skalberg was the basketball and football captain his senior year in high school. Jamie's coach describes him as a hard working young man who led the team as quarterback. He describes the now army Sergeant as a risk taker during games, determined to win at everything he did.
“He got the ball and he was a pretty aggressive player. He took the last shot and as he was getting ready to lease the ball I’m yelling no no and he shooshed it and we were all like YES,” says Schaefer.
Skalberg was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for valor and the Purple Heart after his death. Skalberg is the 21st Iowa soldier to die in Afghanistan since 2001. Another 50 Iowa soldiers have died in Iraq. Funeral arrangements for Skalberg are still pending.