Seaford: A Town Bears the Burden of War

Window shot i

A military photographer took this photograph of Lance Cpl. Rick James moments before James was shot dead in a battle with insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq, on May 13, 2006. Courtesy of Carol James hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Carol James
Window shot

A military photographer took this photograph of Lance Cpl. Rick James moments before James was shot dead in a battle with insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq, on May 13, 2006.

Courtesy of Carol James
Rick James i

Rick James is one of three fallen soldiers from the small town of Seaford, Del. He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he turned 18. Courtesy of Carol James hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Carol James
Rick James

Rick James is one of three fallen soldiers from the small town of Seaford, Del. He enlisted in the Marine Corps the day after he turned 18.

Courtesy of Carol James

Across the nation, small towns are quietly bearing the burden of war amid deep personal loss.

Seaford, Del., a town of fewer than 7,000 people, has so far lost three young men to the war in Iraq.

An Army Ranger, Spc. Ryan Long, 21, died in April 2003.

In May 2006, U.S. Marine Cpl. Cory Palmer, 21, was killed when the Humvee he was riding in struck an improvised explosive device (IED) in Al Anbar province.

One week later, U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Rick James, 20, died in Ramadi during fighting with insurgents.

James enlisted the day after his 18th birthday and left for boot camp on Father's Day in 2004.

Since her son's death, Carol James says she doesn't watch the news anymore. She just concentrates on getting through another day.

She does takes some comfort in knowing exactly how her son died.

And she has a photograph of her son that was taken only moments before his death.

As difficult as it has been to deal with her grief, James says, it has been even worse to watch the rest of her family mourn, knowing that there is nothing she can do.

"Oh, I felt like I was going through double watching the torture my children were going through," says James.

Rick James also left a sister, two brothers, a niece and a nephew behind.

The weekend he died, more than 150 people came by the James' house to pay their respects and bring food, chairs and sodas — whatever was needed. Among them were many people the James family had never met.

"For months, I don't think I could go anywhere without a hug from somebody," Carol James says.

The town remains extremely supportive of the war and of the president, says City Manager Delores Slatcher.

"They may not like everything that's going on, but it's still God, country, flag; it's still the basis of this community that they are going to stand up for and support the decision that is made," Slatcher says.

This piece was produced by Jesse Baker.

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