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Local Soldier's Funeral Report

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Slain Marine eulogized as leader. J.P. Blecksmith killed in Iraq following September deployment.

Local Soldier's Fune...
us_marine_2nd_lt._james_patrick___jp___blecksmith__who_was_killed_in_iraq.jpg, image/jpeg, 328x483

Pasadena Star-News

Slain Marine eulogized as leader

J.P. Blecksmith killed in Iraq following September deployment

By Cindy Chang

Staff Writer

Saturday, November 20, 2004 - SAN GABRIEL -- More than 1,000 people gathered Saturday to mourn James P. Blecksmith, a 24-year-old Marine who died Nov. 11 leading his platoon in house-to-house combat in Falloujah, Iraq.

At a memorial service at The Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel, Blecksmith was remembered as a fun-loving, generous young man who took his juniors under his wing and who in his short time in Iraq proved to be an exceptionally brave soldier.

Known as "J.P.,' 2nd Lt. Blecksmith grew up in San Marino and was a football and track star at Flintridge Prep. He played wide receiver at the United States Naval Academy before being commissioned as a Marine Corps officer in May 2003.

He was deployed to Iraq in September, serving there for less than two months before he was killed by a sniper's bullet in a major military effort to capture the rebel stronghold of Falloujah.

"He picked up his rifle and he didn't flinch, he didn't balk. He counseled his platoon, trained them, prepared them, led them,' said Lt. Col. Eric Smith, who served with Blecksmith in Iraq.

"The fighting in Falloujah was some of the fiercest fighting in history,' Smith added. "How J.P. as a new lieutenant was able to actually lead that platoon, most people don't understand how. I don't understand how.'

J.P.'s older brother, Alex, recalled how J.P. was willing to give up his spot on a 4-by-400 CIF relay team after he made the team but Alex did not.

"There was no opinion or approval I coveted more than his. For if J.P. approved of it, I knew it was the right thing to do,' Alex said.

Alex Blecksmith read from an e-mail his brother sent him shortly after arriving in Iraq, in which the young officer described his pride in the accomplishments of the men who served under him.

"It's not about us, it's not about more ribbons on our chests or the promotions; it's about putting my men in a position where they can be successful, and making them do something they wouldn't otherwise do - and the rewards of watching their success,' J.P. wrote.

The church's rector, the Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray, cautioned the mourners against feeling that Blecksmith's death, in a war that critics argue was unnecessary and waged under false premises, was in vain.

One impulse among the grief-stricken, O'Pray said, might be "to condemn the war, to say that J.P. should never have been put in harm's way.'

"He didn't feel that way - why should we?' O'Pray said.

Blecksmith believed wholeheartedly that the American military was in Iraq to spread freedom and democracy and was optimistic that those goals would soon be achieved, friends and family said.

Blecksmith's flag-draped coffin was carried from the church to the adjacent San Gabriel Cemetery by a solemn procession of Marines. He was honored with a 21-gun salute and a flyover by four stunt planes performing the "missing man' maneuver, where one plane breaks off from the rest and heads skyward.

A scholarship fund at Flintridge Prep has been established in Blecksmith's name.

-- Cindy Chang can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4586, or by e-mail at cindy.chang@sgvn.com .

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Hearse

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The 5th US Marine Battalion march along the hearse during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith who was killed in Iraq was held at the Church of our Saviour in San Gabriel. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Rifle Detail

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The rifle detail of the 5th Marine Battalion march along hearse during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Bagpipes

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Alex MacGillivray plays the bagpipes as the flag draped casket of JP Blecksmith is carried to his final resting place by the The 5th Marine Battalion. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Dog Tag

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The dog tag of fallen marine JP Blecksmith hangs from the casket as the The 5th Marine Battalion pall bearers carry him to his final resting place. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Parents Watch

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Ed and Pam Blecksmith watch as the flag draped casket of their son is marched to his final resting place. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Marines Salute

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The 5th US Marine Battalion acting as pall bearers salutes their fallen comrade before the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Parents Walk

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Ed and Pam Blecksmith walk with the flag draped casket of their son is marched to his final resting place . (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Parents Watch

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Ed and Pam Blecksmith watch as the flag draped casket of their son is marched to his final resting place. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Parents and Casket

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Parents and Casket...
ed_and_pam_blecksmith_take_a_moment_in_front_of_the_flag_draped_casket_of_their_son.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x306

Ed and Pam Blecksmith take a moment in front of the flag draped casket of their son before the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith who was killed in Iraq was held at the Church of our Saviour in San Gabriel. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Taps

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

US Marine Matthew KlingDefazio of the 4th LAD unit out of Pasadena plays the bugle during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Missing Man Maneuver

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

A fly over during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith who was killed in Iraq was held at the Church of our Saviour in San Gabriel. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

The Condor Squadron performed a "missing man maneuver" out of the western sky

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Parents Listen

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Ed and Pam Blecksmith listen to the Bishop speak during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Flag Folded

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The 5th Marine Battalion pall bearers prepare to hand over the flag to the family during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith . (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Flag Presented to Girlfriend

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

US Marine Capt. Prescott Wilson hands JP Blecksmith’s girlfriend Emily Tait a flag. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Purple Heart

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

US Marine Capt. Prescott Wilson hands JP Blecksmith’s purple heart to his mother Pam Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Father Embraces Marine

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

Father Embraces Mari...
us_marine_2nd_lt._jay_reeves_and_friend_of_jp_blecksmith_hugs_ed_blecksmith.jpg, image/jpeg, 440x328

US Marine 2nd Lt. Jay Reeves and friend of JP Blecksmith hugs Ed Blecksmith during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Rifle Detail

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The rifle detail of the 5th Marine Battalion during the funeral for US Marine 2nd Lt. James Patrick "JP" Blecksmith. (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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Rifle Detail

by DJ Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at 4:54 AM

The rifle detail of the 5th Marine Battalion march along hearse during the funeral . (Staff Photo Keith Birmingham)

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