FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq- Soldiers, Airmen, Iraqi Police, Iraqi Army and civilians gathered to mourn the loss of Sgt. 1st Class James Polk in a memorial service held in his honor at Forward Operating Base Warrior, Kirkuk, Iraq, August 8.

Polk died July 31 from wounds sustained from a grenade attack during a mission in Kirkuk, Iraq, July 23.

Polk joined the "Red Dragons" in December 2008 when he was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division and deployed with the unit in February 2009. He was attached to Battery B, 3rd Bn., 82nd FA Regt.

Sgt. 1st Class Polk was a man of unbelievable ability and heart," said Sgt. Thomas Lathrop, an artilleryman in 4th Platoon, HHB, who served with Polk. "He was keen as well as humble. He had a swagger about him that separated him from the rest and [an] insurmountable vivacity that could never be ignored. He brought his positive attitude wherever he was and made sure that no matter the task or circumstance at hand, there was always a way to make the situation work for the better.

"He strived each day to make himself and his Soldiers the best they could possibly be," Lathrop continued.

"Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Polk was the kind of noncommissioned officer that you knew was special, that could make things happen within your organization, and that had a way to influence his soldiers in a way that only hard-earned experience in the Army provides," said Capt. Bradley Hardy, the commander of HHB, 3rd Bn., 82nd FA Regt. "He was one of those singular NCOs that only made things better."

"He always knew how to bring out the best in everyone, even when others doubted," said 1st Lt. Jaciel Guerrero, the 4th Platoon, HHB, platoon leader. "Whenever anyone needed guidance he was there. He leaves behind nothing but good memories for all of us to cherish and remember."

Polk's military awards included two Bronze Star Medals, Meritorious Service Medals, Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals, five Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.

Polk was born December 29, 1969, and grew up in Mississippi. He joined the Army in March 1992 and was assigned to 1-15th Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Casey, Korea. In 2004, Polk deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 2-82nd FA Regt., and he deployed again in February 2006.

Polk is survived by his wife Janis, and his children Kenney, Deandra, Alvin, Xavier and Mary.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16