Jim

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The_Wraith

Guest
Sitting there in my chair and eating my dinner, mumbleing to myself that this elk hunt is just like all the others, to many hunters, to much walking and not enough elk. Yup, just like all the others, that is it was like all the others till the headlights pulled off the main road and into my camp. That's when everything changed, forever.

As I sat there and watched the lights getting closer I couldn't help but laugh because one light was bouncing all over the place, it must have been held together by zip ties and duct tape and there were so many squeaks and creaks it sounded like it was ready to come apart, kentucky plates complimented the rig. When it finally pulled up out jumps this kid, maybe 18 or so and he walks right up and introduces himself, his name was Jim.

"Hey buddy, how ya doin'?" I asked

"Well sir" he said in his Kentucky drawl "I was hoping that maybe you could help me, I've already been to half a dozen camps but no one yet has been able to help me with my dilemma."

"Hmmm, lets hear your issue and then we'll go from there"

"See, it's like this. I'm from eastern Kentucky down along the the Big Sandy, right close to West Virginia. I've been hunting down there all my life, whitetails and such, anything legal really. But I've always had this dream of hunting the rockies and chasing mule deer with my bow, there's something about them that just, well, I just can't explain what the feeling is that I get when I see pictures of them." At this point he kinda went quiet for a minute as his mind drifted off, thinking about monster muleys I guess.

"Anyways, I've been dreaming about hunting out here just about forever I guess and now that I'm here I just can't figure this sort of hunting out. I've already been out here a week and while I have seen plenty of deer I can't seem to get close enough to a nice buck to get a shot off. I've seen probably 100 deer, bucks mostly but they always see me before I see them and are gone. I've been going around looking for some help from other hunters but everyone I have talked to is hunting elk and either don't know or don't have the time to help. My question is, can you help me? I have no money to offer but I need some serious help if I'm going to make this dream of mine come true. I've got another week and then I have to be back home as I'm leaving for MCRD the first week of october."

Now I was going to offer some tips, show him some maps of where to go and send him on his way but when he mentioned MCRD he struck a nerve...
 
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D13er

Guest
..........then the hillbillie's girl friend snuck around behind me and hit me over the head with a tire iron. They then stole my rifle and drove off in that rattle trap headed to california.

JB

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."
--Benjamin Franklin 1759
 
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The_Wraith

Guest
...MCRD. Even as he's talking my mind takes a swerve, thoughts of my grandpa come back to me, the stories he told me about his tours in Korea and 'nam, about his first Korean tour and having to fight the Koreans and Chinese, about being over run and hand to hand combat, he always had an afinity for machetes. His second tour was better, it was late in the 50's and he went deer hunting all the time, a spotlight and a 12 gauge kept the orphans well fed he said. Vietnam was bad, he spent 20 months in Da Nang, that's about all I know about his tour there because he refused to talk about it. I always knew when he was thinking about it because his face would take on a strange look and his voice would become strange also. I learned to stay away from him when he was like that. I can still see him now showing me how a Marine marches, how he drills, different cadences and my most unfavorite thing of all how he makes his bed. He passed away when I was just 13 but I think about him everyday of my life.

Ahhh, anyways, lets get back to Jim. We chatted for awhile and I found out he was 1 month shy of 18 and he was joining the Corp because he felt that his country had been attacked and now he was going to do the best to defend his home. He was going in as an 0300, infantry with the desire to be a scout/sniper. He said he was given a gift by god, the gift was the ability to judge ranges nearly instantly without the use of any help and he was always right. When he told me that about being able to judge ranges all I said was "We'll see how good you are tomorrow."

Bed time didn't come till nearly 11 pm that night. We had alot to go over and I had pretty much put my hunt on hold till this kid either nailed a good buck or he ran out of time. It was the least that I could do for him since he was willing to put his life on the line for myself and every other one of the 300 million americans out there. This was now my personal mission...
 
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The_Wraith

Guest
...Several days had passed, some of the most wonderful days I can ever remember. We'd packed into the head of cascade creek drainage, something Jim had never done and we started seeing deer, elk even bear. He'd been trying to sneak up on the deer down in the trees which is nearly impossible to do because of all the debris littering the ground, they always heard him coming before he saw them. This time around it was different, up here above treeline we could see for miles and he was in heaven. The bucks were everywhere, big ones, little ones, mid sized ones and it was all I could do to slow him down, he wanted to chase everything.

Finally we found a nice wide 3x4, still in velvet which is something he loved and after a 2 hour stalk he was within striking range and when he released the arrow it flew the 35 yards and impacted with a solid thud and zipped all the way through. Even though the blood trail was sporadic and tracks were hard to find in the tall grass we were able to find him, he'd only gone 75 yards and he'd come to rest at the base of a large rocky knob, lying there looking as if he were asleep. I followed Jim down to him and I didn't say a word I just watched. As he layed his young, shaking hands on those velvet covered antlers he was unable to say anything. When he turned to me he had tears in his eyes and with a trembling voice he said "You have no idea, I have no way to express my feelings, my spirit is so full and I want to say so much, I, I..."

"Jim buddy this has been the greatest hunt of my life, It was a pure pleasure to see you up here, so full of your youthful excitement. I wish you could just bottle this up and carry it with you always and I know that you'll always remember this hunt and everything about it."

Normally a hunting story ends with an animal dieing, a photo on the wall, a freezer full of meat and memories that will last a lifetime. This is actually where this story really begins...
 
T

The_Wraith

Guest
LAST EDITED ON Sep-11-05 AT 09:38PM (MST)[p]...I kept in touch with Jim. He wrote to me several times from boot camp, he never whined about the Drill Instructors being to tough, he just said it was the hardest thing he had ever done but he was also very happy that he made the choice to become a Marine. I was invited to his graduation but for one reason or another I was unable to go, I wish I had gone because, hmmm, well you'll see why.

He made it into scout/sniper school with flying colors. He scored nearly perfect in all of his tests that he had to go through to get there. Once there he committed himself to being the best he could and he was rewarded for his devotion by being first in his class. I learned all this from his bi-weekly letters he would write to me, he also wrote that once he had the time he'd like to do another trip out west again, this time his dad planned on going and he also hoped that I would be able to make it with them. Of course I told him I'd be there.

2 years into his USMC career he was sent into Iraq. I continued to get letters and emails from him and he told about the heat, the thirst, the piercing desert cold and the sand storms that would come out of nowhere and cover everything around under a fine layer of sand. He hated that the most because he was always having to field strip his weapons to keep them clean and the sand would get into every palce imaginable and even some that weren't imaginable. He was able to make a call on a sat phone one day and thankfully I was there to get it, he'd made his first kill that day and he didn't know how to feel and he felt strange talking to his parents about it, so he called me. I did the best I could but what do you tell a kid, barely 20 that had just killed his first man? I didn't know then and I still don't know now.

This is getting really hard to tell, I, I'm so full of grief right now that I, I, I ahhhh...

Jim had been there for 9 months and he'd made so many kills that other Marines had nicknamed him Carlos. He didn't want that nickname, he just, he just wanted to come home and go out west again.

Then a letter came that wasn't in his hand writing, it was a womans and without even opening it up I knew what it was. I set it on my counter and went and sat down and stared at it for hours. Finally, late that night I opened it up. In it were two items. The first was a folded up piece of a newspaper and the other was a note. It read:

Dear Mr. Gaines,
I, Mrs. James Newell, am writing you this letter to tell you about my son, James Newell Jr. I am very sorry to have to tell you that my brave young son was killed in combat on may 17th while protecting his fellow Marines while on a combat mission in Fallujah, Iraq. My son is coming home this saturday, may 26th and his father and I would be most grateful if you were able to be here for his services. Enclosed is an article that was run by our local newspaper. Please contact me as soon as you can,
Thank you,
Debra Newell

...
 
T

The_Wraith

Guest
LAST EDITED ON Sep-11-05 AT 10:53PM (MST)[p]...The newspaper article she had included was a description of what happened on the 17th of may that led to his being killed. It read:

Eastern Kentucky Herald, May 19th, 2004

"A local boy, Jim Newell, that was in the marines during their campaign against insurgents in Fallujah, was killed in combat on May 17th.

It seems that his motorcade of 6 humvees came under intense small arms and RPG fire while trying to cross a deserted field while routing out insurgents. There were 27 Marines aboard the 6 vehicles and once fire was taken and the lead vehicles were destroyed the remaining Marines took cover either behind the remaining humvees or in shallow irrigation ditches. It seems that Newell, a scout/sniper on his way back from some R&R, upon seeing his fellow Marines pinned down and out matched took matters into his own hands and without thought for his own safety or well being drove a humvee with 3 flat tires straight at the trench that the enemy was using as cover. Covering the 200 yards in a matter of seconds he crashed the vehicle into the trench and jumping out, he proceeded to run down the length of the trench full of the enemy, firing his M-16 till he ran out of ammunition, once that happened he picked up an AK-47 and continued his 150 yard sprint straight into the face of the enemy. When his rifle would become empty he would pick up another and continue running and firing, finally at the end he was using his beretta 9mm and K-bar to finish off the bewildered enemy who did not understand what was happening till it was to late.

Finally at the end of the trench and all the enemy dead he realized that he'd been hit, multiple times, but he also realized that his Marines were alive. By the time his fellow Marines had reached him he was barely able to whisper and a friend who wished not to have his name revealed said that he told him 'I hope they have big mulies in heaven.'

He is credited with single handedly saving his fellow comrades and accounted for 47 dead enemy combatants. He has been nominated for the Navy Cross, Purple Heart and The Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously."


There was more to the article but I wasn't seeing anything but a scrawny kid, with tears in his eyes holding a wide, velvet covered 3x4.

I was there for his funeral, I saw his mother receive the flag, I heard the 21 gun salute and taps was played.

Upon talking with his parents I found that all he ever talked about with them was his time back in Colorado chasing mulies. He talked about this crazy old guy (Old? I'm only 30) that had helped him take the buck of his dreams and also they told me that when he got out of the Corp he had planned on relocating to Colorado just so he could be closer to the high country and the mulies.

****************************

Months have gone by since that muggy spring day back in Kentucky. One day I was sitting home on a cold rainy fall day and there came a knock at the door. It turned out to be UPS with a very big, cumbersome box for me, the return address was Kentucky.

I knew what it was by the size of the box but I couldn't understand why they would want me to have it. Why? This was Jim's most treasured thing he had and he had never even laid eyes on it since the day he sent it to the taxidermist. Inside the box was a wide, velvet covered 3x4, a blood stained arrow and a short note.

The note said that Jim would have wanted me to have this since it was as much mine as it was his and that they (his parents) wanted me to have it to remember Jim by. I was floored, no I was more than floored. What could I say? What could I do? Upon looking at that blood stained arrow I knew what I had to do.

***************************************

Six months have gone by since I received that package from Kentucky and now I am in the exact spot that Jim had stood when he sent this blood stained arrow I have in my hands through a wide, velvet covered 3x4. With tears streaming down my face and a prayer in my heart for my departed friend, Marine and blood brother Jim I send this arrow into the abyss of some nameless bowl at the headwaters of Cascade creek high in the Colorado rockies. I hope that it stays in this bowl forever and I know that Jim will be with me on my next hunt for velvet covered mulies. R.I.P. buddy, SEMPER FI
 

kingfish

Long Time Member
Messages
6,134
Wraith, There are two heroes in this story. One is Jim. The other is you!. I will never forget your story and Jim. This country is what it is because of selfless people Like Jim and you you made a big difference in someons life. Most of us will live a lifetime and never make a difference. You'll never be able to say that!!. Thank you for sharing your story you just made a difference in another persons life! Your welcome at my fire anytime.
Sincerly,Keith Fish.
 
C

Chef

Guest
That story sure touched me hard.
Thank You for sharing.

Chef
"I Love Animals...They're Delicious!"
 
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Cowboy

Guest
That is pretty powerful stuff. It would have been so easy to let that young man come up short. It takes a very special person to help bring out the very best in others. Sometimes the results are so extraordinary we cant even imagine them, as you so aptly illustrate. Thank you.
 
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driftersifter

Guest
Jim,I share your grief. There are no words to share the way you must feel,not for something like this. Be proud of how you have conducted yourself through all of this, I'm proud of you. If you ever need to catch a 50 inch muskie or work a whitetail and are in need of help I'm yours for the week I teach school and can devote a week anytime all summer long. I live in the heart of muskie country here in Wisconsin. I lost a good buddy in The Nam and it sticks with you a long time. Its americans like you that give us hunters a good name.
Mike
 
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MontanaTines

Guest
Wraith,
That is an incredible story of two incredible people. I read your first post a while back and didn't catch the end until today. So glad I did, you were able to put it into words beautifully. My grandfather, a fellow marine, passed away at 90 this year. My deepest sympathy.
 

rutnbuck

Long Time Member
Messages
3,727
Well Done
Each time if find a arrow in the wilds. I will leave it there and think of Jim and others like him. May he find the big muley basin in the sky
Rut
 
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sixgunn

Guest
I must say, I have not read this post until today....boy was I missing out. It tears at the heart strings. Thanks for sharing. God Bless our troops.
 
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elkslayer54

Guest
Brother,
Those were the best words that have ever been composed on this site! I cried like a chid, Thank you for putting things in perspective for me, and I an sure alot of others. God Bless You!




FEAR NOT FOR I AM WITH YOU! Walk soft and carry a 300 RUM,
 

Gator

Long Time Member
Messages
17,381
Know each time you are up there in ("Jim's) country, he will be with you looking over your shoulder, helping you decide to shoot or to let the buck walk for another year.
 

antlerrick

Very Active Member
Messages
2,586
Man what a story. If we could all be that kind and generous to everyone we meet, we would all live in a better world.
My hat is off to you and I really appreciate the story.
May God Bless!
 
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elk_horn

Guest
I wish the whole country would read this letter.... thank God we have people like you and Jim... You are the best!
 

fstop

Active Member
Messages
209
Wraith,
I really needed to read this story. Just recently I was contacted by a friend of a friend of a...
well you know. This guy has a premium elk tag this year and is down to the last hunt and is in need of some help.....
I was having a really hard time talking myself into helping this guy out on his hunt. The usual things kept crossing my mind ie: gas prices, food for the weekend, xmas is soon...As soon I as finished your story at work today and was done wiping the tears from my face,I knew where I'd be this weekend and I thank both you and Jim. fstop
 

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