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Remembering Hometown Hero Sgt. James Skalberg

Liz Dorland

Remembering Hometown Hero Sgt. James Skalberg

CREATED Jul. 10, 2012

Red Oak, IA -- The town of Emerson welcomed home one of their own Tuesday, Army Sgt. James Skalberg.  Sgt. Skalberg was killed in Afghanistan last week just days before he was set to come home.

Hundreds of flags whipped in the wind along old HWY 34 in Iowa, ready for Sgt. James Skalberg. 
"It's a homecoming we've been waiting a couple of weeks for but not the homecoming we wanted," sadly admitted his Father-in-Law Bill Billings.

Dozens of people held flags and watched as Patriot Guard Riders escorted the Army soldier back home.   "I've just come to see this young man to honor him," explained Joe Marsden.

Marlene Colerick handed out tiny flags to those who didn't have one.  She was James Skalberg's kindergarten teacher.   Colerick said, "It's exciting to see the way the people have turned out to see the flags, to see that he's being honored in this way yet it's a sad day."

Sgt. Skalberg landed alone at Eppley Air Field to an adoring family. Billings said, "That honor flight is just that, an honor. They brought him home alone by himself with his guard and he has been guarded ever since his tragic death."

Friends and family called Sgt. Skalberg "Jamie".   "Jamie had the frostiest blue eyes and the biggest smile.  I always kidded him that he shouldn't have been a soldier, he should have been a model he was was a beautiful man if that could be said," added his father-in-law.

Jamie and his wife, Jess have a son who will turn one this Thursday, just two days before he's laid to rest.

While hundreds of people didn't think twice to stop their day to pay tribute, they vow to remember him.  Virden Perdue said, "The reason why we just got to honor these guys that lay down their lives for our freedom."

"The saddest thing is we'll bury this American hero 2 days before he was supposed to arrive home in another way," Billings said.

A hero they will forever remember as Sgt. Jamie Skalberg.   Jamie has been awarded the posthumous Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.  Services for Sgt. Skalberg will be this Saturday in Red Oak, Iowa.

Reported By: Liz Dorland, ldorland@action3news.com

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