Wednesday, June 06, 2007

James C. Akin dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Some day, the Oval Office would be his.

James C. Akin, the would-be president, was so driven by that thought that he enlisted in the Army and served in Iraq so that as a presidential candidate, he could speak with the experience of a war veteran.

Army Sgt. James C. Akin was killed Sunday near Baghdad, when a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee. The Department of Defense has not released the information, but his family has confirmed it.

"He was willing to put his actions where his mouth was," said Victor Raigoza, a spokesman for Akin's family. "If one day he occupied the office where war would be determined, (he felt) that it would be necessary for him to have experienced that."

Akin, a 2001 Valley High School graduate, was one of four soldiers killed when the Humvee he was driving was struck by an improvised explosive device, Raigoza said. Akin would have turned 24 this month.

"You always did what you loved to do, and that is serve your country," Akin's wife, Syreeta, of Rio Rancho, wrote on his page on the social networking site "I appreciate your sacrifice as well as all others before you. Without people like you where would our country be?"

Raigoza met Akin in 2004. Akin had sold his retail cell phone company in the Northeast Heights and signed on to manage Raigoza's Democratic bid for a state Senate seat. Raigoza lost the nomination to former Los Ranchos Mayor John Hooker.

"We ended up spending three months together, almost day and night," Raigoza said. "My campaign was based out of my house, and James pretty much moved in."

Akin was deployed in the fall of 2004, Raigoza said, a development that was worrisome based on what he learned of Akin during their months spent together.

"I was nervous by the fact that James was going to war," Raigoza said.

"Because of his gregarity and his leadership, there's a good chance James will never come back," Raigoza said he thought at the time. "I hated to believe that, but knowing his personality, those are the people leading the way."

Elements of Akin's personality can be found throughout his MySpace page ( He was fond of military movies and admired President Clinton. He also was a sports fan.

In a posting on Saturday, his wife wrote "Go Cavs" - a reference to the NBA playoff victory by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The postings since have turned his Web page into an Internet memorial, with comments from Army colleagues, family and friends.

"I don't have my battle buddy anymore," wrote an Army colleague identified as "Casey" on the site. "I love you, man, and know that I wish it was my life instead of yours."

Raigoza said Akin's character is showcased in a letter he wrote after the 2004 political campaign.

"Live life to serve, because you can. Dissent, because you can. Enjoy freedom, because you can," Akin wrote. "Remember always that the measure of our progress is not whether we can provide more for those who have plenty, but whether we can provide enough to those who have little."

Akin is survived by his wife, Syreeta, and father, James W. Akin of Albuquerque. His mother, Marianne Antonucci, died in October, Raigoza said.

Funeral arrangements are pending, but Raigoza said Akin requested burial in Santa Fe National Cemetery.

From the Albuquerque Tribune