(reprinted from PhillyBurbs.com, January 24, 2008)
The Life Of A Fallen Marine Remembered
Thursday morning the students and staff at Northwest Whitfield High School had a moment of silence to remember fallen Marine Corps Lance Cpl. James M. Gluff.
The 2005 graduate was killed during combat operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province January 19. He began a tour of duty in Iraq back in September and was planning on being back with his family in Tunnel Hill in April.
Gluff's wife, Hope, said "right now it's sinking in more everyday, but at the same time it just doesn't seem real."
20-year-old Gluff has a son, Michael Wayne, who is now 14-months old.
His wife says, "I'm happy that he looks just like his father and he acts like him and I wouldn't have it any other way because he is a part of him and he's here."
It was five years ago on January 24, that Hope and James became high school sweathearts. They married two years ago after both began training in the Marine Corps.
Gluff was assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Gluff joined the Marine Corps June 1, 2005, and was trained as an infantry rifleman, joining 1st Battalion, 8th Marines on Nov. 19, 2005. He was promoted to the rank of lance corporal on March 1, 2006. His decorations include the Humanitarian Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Gluff graduated from Northwest Whitfield High with dual diplomas for technical and college-prep programs. Principal Carolyn Towns says Gluff was a model student with good grades and attendence and his passing has a lot of meaning for soon-to-be graduates. She says, "I think it makes students more thoughtful about decisions they're making, but also thoughtful about what it means to serve your country. And I think it makes them reflect on what life is about."
Newschannel 9 also talked with a teacher who remembered Gluff well. david Bolt taught him shop and law enforcement at Northwest Whitfield. He says, "It's got to be a disappointment, it's a sad thing, it's a tragic thing, to lose anyone in the community that's that caliber of a young man."
David Bolt has fond memories of Gluff and says Gluff would come by after class and offer his help to the teacher. He says when Gluff told him his plan for the military, he knew the smart, polite student would do well. "His character and his attitude, his positive outlook, he was just always eager to learn and help."
And he helped many the day he died. Hope says he saved twenty five man when the two suicide bombs hit their two trucks... Three were injured and one was a good friend from Soddy Daisy, Daniel O'Keefe.
O'Keefe's mother tells us he's now recovering in a hospital in Germany, after he was shot in his face, leaving shrapnel in his eyes and ears.
His teacher says Gluff's heroic act doesn't surprise him. "I would have expected that he would have done that in a heart beat just because of the kind of person he was, he would probably help anybody who needed anything."
Gluff's family says he wanted to be in the military since he was six years old, and being in the Marines on a real mission was a life-long dream that his mother did not want to spoil despite her own personal battles.
"Because I had just told him in August, well just befor he left that I had cancer. So you know it was real hard on him to leave me but you know, I could have probably stopped it but I couldn't do it to him because it's something he always wanted to do," Gluff's mother Ellen Betancourt said.
Gluff's wife says she wants to raise their son Michael Wayne to be just like his father.
"He was a great man, he had a great personality and he was really funny. He strived for perfection, very strong willed and determined," Mrs. Gluff said.
Services will be Monday at 12:30 p.m. in the chapel of Love Funeral Home. Burial with full military honors will be Monday at 2:30 p.m. at National Cemetery in Chattanooga.
The family will receive friends at the Love Funeral Home Sunday after 2:00 p.m. Words of comfort may be sent to the family at www.lovefuneralhomega.com Love Funeral Home, 1402 North Thornton Ave., Dalton.