Monday, July 09, 2007

James M. Ahearn dies 'when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device'

Fort Bragg Army Major Jim Ahearn known as Jimmy by many died in a roadside bombing last Thursday.

Monday his wife, who was born in Iraq, spoke to Eyewitness News about her husband's life with his family - and his death.

Lena Ahearn remembers the day her husband, Major James Ahearn left for his third tour of duty in Iraq. He wrote a note to his family on their refrigerator bulletin board. "No matter how far we are apart, our hearts will always be together. I love you guys so much," the soldier wrote on the note.

Jimmy died in Iraq along with another Fort Bragg soldier. Lena is Iraqi and she met Jimmy in the Green Zone where she worked in Baghdad. They fell in love instantly. "He tried to do anything... anything you want just to make you happy," Lena told Eyewitness News reporter Gilbert Baez. "Like... whenever I cry... he cried. Whenever I'm happy... he's happy. This is the man I always dreamed of but he got to go so fast," Lena said.

Lena says she's the first Iraqi woman to fall in love with and marry an American soldier after the war in Iraq began in 2003. Her family received death threats after the marriage. The repercussions forced her mother and sister to flee Iraq.

Lena explains, "My mother and my little sister are now living in a refugee camp in a dirty little place. She has the diabetes. She have a blood pressure and she's sick over there. My other two sisters and my brother, they stayed in Iraq and now their lives in danger too because of me."

It's easy to see why Lena loved her husband. He always left her flowers, cards and note around the house. "He put them on top of refrigerator, inside the refrigerator beside the milk where I have my coffee creamer in the cabinet in the kitchen. In the laundry room. Whenever I open my draw. When I go to the bathroom, I brush my teeth I found one on the mirror," Lena said.

The couple has a 17-month-old daughter and Lena wants her to know how her father lived and not the horrible way he died. Lena said, "I'm kind of ashamed and embarrassing because he died in my country. So, I would love to be a citizen now."

Ahearn was one of two Fort Bragg-based members of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion killed last week. Ahearn was 43.

From ABC 11