Ahearn, James, MAJ

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Last Rank
Last Service Branch
Civil Affairs
Last Primary MOS
38A-Civil Affairs (AA and USAR)
Last MOS Group
Civil Affairs (Officer)
Primary Unit
2007-2007, 39C, 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
Service Years
1988 - 2007

Civil Affairs


Four Overseas Service Bars

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
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Casualty Info
Home Town
Last Address
Baghdad, Iraq

Casualty Date
Jul 05, 2007
Hostile, Died of Wounds
IED-Improvised Explosive Device
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 60, Site 8643

 Official Badges 

Civil Affairs And Psychological Operations 1st Infantry Division

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
GWOT Fallen
  2007, GWOT Fallen [Verified]

 Photo Album   (More...

 Ribbon Bar

Parachutist (Basic)
Civil Affairs

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1994, Infantry Officer Candidate School (Fort Benning, GA), A
 Unit Assignments
27th Engineer Battalion2nd Infantry DivisionArmy Garrison Fort Irwin, CA24th Infantry Division
96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne)4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
  1994-1997, 21B, 27th Engineer Battalion
  1997-1998, 21B, 2nd Infantry Division
  1998-2001, 12B, Army Garrison Fort Irwin, CA
  2001-2004, 21B, 24th Infantry Division
  2004-2006, 38A, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne)
  2007-2007, 39C, 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1990-1991 Gulf War (Iraq)
  2007-2007 OIF/Iraqi Surge (2007-08)
 Colleges Attended 
Diablo Valley CollegeCampbell University
  1986-1988, Diablo Valley College
  1994-1996, Campbell University
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Killed in action on July 5, 2007

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Maj. James Michael Ahearn was a civil affairs officer assigned to 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C.

He died July 5, 2007, from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device attack while conducting a patrol during combat operations in Baghdad, Iraq.

Ahearn deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as a member of a civil affairs team supporting the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.

This was Ahearn’s second tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He was born Nov. 3, 1963, in Florida and was raised in California. Ahearn graduated from Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, Calif., in 1988 with an associate degree in liberal arts and later earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Campbell University, Buies Creek, N.C.

He entered the military service in 1989 and later completed the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. In 1994, he returned to Fort Benning and graduated from the Officer Candidate School. Following OCS, Ahearn was assigned to the 27 th Engineer Brigade here. Subsequently, he served tours at Fort Stewart, Ga., and Fort Irwin, Calif., as well as Korea and Kuwait. Ahearn first deployed to Iraq as an engineer officer in 2003. He also served his country in Saudi Arabia and Germany.

Ahearn’s military education also includes the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced courses at Fort Leonard

Wood, Mo., the Civil Affairs Officer Course and the Regional Studies Course at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School here.

His awards and decorations include Bronze Star for valor, Bronze Star, two Meritorious Service medals, five Army Commendation medals, two Army Achievement Medals, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, two National Defense Service medals, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kingdom of Saudia Arabia), Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Award, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Basic Parachutist Badge.

Ahearn is survived by his wife, Lina and their daughter, Khadijah Mariam both of Raeford, N.C. He is also survived by his mother, Connie Ahearn of Concord, Calif., and his father, James F Ahearn of Phoenix, Ariz.


In the final hours of his life on July 5, 2007, Army Major James M. Ahearn was doing what he did best: looking out for the interests of others.

From his quarters in Baghdad, he tried to assure family members in the U.S. that he was safe and upbeat. Then he headed across town to try to assure local Iraqis that eventually things could be upbeat and safe for them too, if everyone worked together. He was on his way to that neighborhood meeting when a homemade bomb blew up next to his truck. He was killed instantly, along with a Sergeant from his 95th Civil Affairs Brigade.

Ahearn, 43, of Concord, California, was buried Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery. His younger brother, Kevin, delivered the eulogy, describing him as a hero in life as well as death. An 18-year veteran whose career included duty in the Persian Gulf War as an enlisted man assigned to a tank crew, Ahearn was nearing the end of his third tour of duty in the current Iraq conflict. And he seemed to understand the country like few Americans do. He learned to speak Arabic and moved comfortably among Iraqi villagers and officials. During Baghdad duty in 2003, he met and fell in love with an Iraqi woman. He brought her to the U.S. in 2005, and they married and had a baby girl.

On this tour, Ahearn was working to develop relationships with Iraqi civilians and improve relations among rival groups. There were signs that work was starting to pay off, he told family members. "Cautiously optimistic is a very good way of putting it," he wrote in early June. "The last 36 hours have been very encouraging for me: had a meeting with an Iraqi general, pitched my ideas for civil affairs projects in one of his neighborhoods. Had a meeting in the neighborhood with a bunch of local leaders who were insistent that they don't want handouts; they just need some assistance to get things going."

The neighborhood where he was killed had been car-bombed a few weeks earlier, leaving six dead and several dozen injured. The sectarian attack had been intended as a catalyst to divide residents, Ahearn explained. Instead, it had united them. "This neighborhood—Sunni, Shia, Christian and Kurd— came together. They cared for the injured, put up the homeless, built makeshift barriers around the neighborhood to prevent such a thing from happening again," he wrote in an e-mail to family members.

Ahearn had met his future wife, Lena, in Baghdad's Green Zone when he stopped by her family's home to check on their welfare. She had been working at the time as a military translator.

"It was love at first sight, but we didn't want to say it," Lena Ahearn said. "Jimmy was the greatest gift I ever had."

Ahearn impressed those who watched him give food to Iraqi families and things such as soccer balls to children.

"He was taking care of the Green Zone where we were staying. He was very friendly, helping everybody. He saw his job as helping rebuild, not fighting," recalled Lena's sister, Mariam Ghadeer.

When Lena agreed to marry him, he set out to convert to the Muslim faith so the ceremony could take place. Then he worked to bring her to the U.S.

His father, retired Phoenix-area FBI head James F. Ahearn, helped him snip through immigration red tape, eventually enlisting the assistance of Senator John McCain (R-Arizona). The couple settled in Raeford, North Carolina, near the Army's Fort Bragg, where Ahearn's 96th Civil Affairs Battalion was based.

His mother, Connie Ahearn, lives in Concord, California.

Seventeen months ago, Ahearn's daughter, Kadi, was born. His redeployment to Iraq began in March, and he was due home in September. He planned to retire from the Army in 2009. Ahearn's greatest worry, initially, was that his daughter wouldn't remember him when he returned. But he also was concerned about the Iraqi children whom he encountered. Snapshots that he sent from Iraq nearly always depicted children, friends say. He encouraged them to ship over toys—but "no toy guns, please"—to be distributed to them. "If we can get through to the kids," he wrote, "then maybe Kadi can visit here as a tourist instead of as a Lieutenant."

To the end, the American Major worried more about the Iraqis' fate than his own. "There are a lot of good people here who really are trying to make a difference and need some help. There's no doubt in my mind that if we left, they'd all be dead," he wrote in an e-mail to his father.

"If we were to get the hell out of here, some poor kid would be left doing the job—and we're already losing enough good kids. "I wish I could just sit all the Iraqi entities down in a room, pitch my plan to rid the place of Al Qaeda, and promise that the Americans will leave shortly thereafter—or at least take up positions out in the desert on the Iranian border, which the average Iraqi wouldn't mind at all. I'll figure out the whole Iran thing later. "I never realized saving the world was so damned hard."

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