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The “U.S. Soldier” (An ASP Exclusive) [UPDATE]

Information  June 12 2006
 — By CJ Grisham

[Final UPDATE] Alex was laid to rest at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetary in San Antonio on Friday. Haystack was there and wrote an excellent post about the day. He’s also included an article from one of the soldiers from his unit. To highlight my favorite part:

We [haystack and Patriot Guard Riders] stood guard until Capt. Funkhouser’s body had been placed in the hearse, and she had been escorted into the family car to take the Capt. “home”. As this was going on, their 2 little daughters were brought over near us to await the next cars that would take them to the reception afterwards, designated to take place on base at Ft. Sam Houston. They were standing about 5 feet away from me, everyone telling the girls how pretty they looked in their matching dresses; they pirhouetting about showing off their dresses and shoes. The youngest was then picked up and hugged and kissed, and she said to another family member “Daddy’s with God now”, as matter of factly as any 2 yeard old I have ever been around. My wife started to cry, my eyes welled up with these same tears, and I thought this was perhaps the most telling moment of the entire service. This little girl had lost her Father, her sister and her mother and all the relatives and soldiers had suffered this loss, but they stood proud, showed grace and dignity, held their heads up high, said goodbye to a wonderful Father and Son and Husband, and began the business of picking up the pieces and moving forward; with the grace of God.

Go read the rest HERE.


[UPDATE4] I didn’t want this to get buried in the comments section as the post gets pushed down. If you’re in the San Antonio area:

James A. Funkhouser
My husband Alex will be laid to rest with full military honors at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetary in San Antonio, TX on Friday, June 9th at 9 AM. I have just finished making the arrangements. It’s going to be a wonderful ceremony with a great celebration afterwards. Thank you to eveyone for all the support that I’ve received from family, friends, soldiers and strangers from around the country. I know Alex is just one of many, but maybe his death has and will force others to stop and notice when another soldier dies instead of barely paying attention to it in the news. I think that we are all starting to become immune to all of the death there and everywhere else. Iraq has been in our lives for the past few years and the deaths just don’t seem to be as important now. Please don’t let that happen. Take the time to notice another soldier fallen. Remember Alex and know that the next soldier is probably someone just like him.

CJ – Thanks again for posting Alex’s story.
Everone else – Keep remembering. I know that something good has to come from this.
Alex – If you can hear me: ROCK ON!!! (A little inside joke)

The Patriot Guard Riders will be present to ensure that no would-be religious idiots show up to screw with our heroes. Being from S.A., I wish I could be there personally. Jennifer, your husband’s funeral is in good hands.

[UPDATE3] Willing to eat my words, I’m proud to say that CNN aired a very good story about Alex as told by his wife, Jennifer and father, James Funkhouser Sr. HERE. Thank you, Kim, for the link. Also, if you haven’t done so recently, read the comments to this post. Many family members of Alex’s family have posted.

[UPDATE2] A memorial fund has been set up for CPT Funkhouser’s family:

Children of Captain Funkhouser
Sterling Bank
Attn: Billie Jean Higginbotham
20045 Katy Freeway
Katy, TX 77450

[UPDATE] I wanted to add a little more information that I’ve been given about Alex’s life and share a picture that was sent to me. In the words of one of his friends, Kim, growing up:

When we were kids Alex was famous for getting the other neighborhood kids together and playing “Army”—-he was always the “Commander” (I guess because his Dad had lots of Army stuff at home) and I was always the “Nurse” because my mom was a nurse and had lots of bandgages, gauze etc. for us to use. I was always there to “patch them up” and send them back out there to fight the “bad guys” ……I wish I could do that know……patch him up to bring him home to enjoy life with Jennifer, Katy, Allison, Jim and Margaret.

I had been in contact with him during this deployment. He was always so thankful for the support of him and his men. I am going to honor his memory by continuing to support his men.

CPT James Funkhouser

I’ve harped on how the media has gushed about the fact that two journalists died in Iraq and glossed over the soldier who died. I know that the military won’t immediately release names until the families, but the media doesn’t even attempt to explain this.

After a call to US Army public affairs, I was able to confirm that the anonymous “U.S. soldier” who died on Tuesday was CPT James A. Funkhouser Jr., affectionately known as Alex. He was named after his father, James A. Funkhouser Sr., a 31 year retired Army veteran.

Alex was born in Okinawa, Japan, while his parents were stationed there. Growing up he was an active child. His father told me that he “liked doing things.” He read a lot and was just a normal boy. Between the ages of two and twelve, he lived in California. Then they moved to Texas. Alex fell in love with Texas, who wouldn’t?

He joined the Army in 1993 as an enlisted soldier and worked his way through the ranks to Staff Sergeant. He then took a Green to Gold scholarship and in 1999 was commissioned into the Armor Corps as a Lieutenant into the US Army by his father.

In January 2006, Alex deployed with 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment of 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. He served as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company Commander and was dual hatted in charge of training the Iraqi Army. According to emails received last Friday and a phone call on Sunday to his wife, things were going well.

On Monday, Alex’s wife Jennifer returned with the kids and her parents from Corpus Christi. As she was getting their two daughters, Kaitlyn, 4, and Allison, 2, settled down and ready for bed there was a knock at the door. Opening the door, Jennifer was greeted by soldier in their dress uniform there to notify her that her husband had been killed in Iraq.

Capt. James A. Funkhouser, 35, of Katy, Texas, died in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 29, of injuries sustained when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during reconnaissance patrol operations. He leaves behind his wife and two daughters.

Alex was in the business of helping people. He was directly responsible for ensuring that the Iraqi security forces were trained and operational so that other soldiers could go home sooner than later. He loved his job and the military profession. It is people like him that Iraqi citizens have to thank for freedom. It’s people like him who we Americans have to thank for our freedoms. Those same freedoms we often for granted, forgetting the sacrifices that make them possible.

While I was talking with Alex’s father on the phone, he mentioned that CNN was in the living room speaking with Jennifer. Having not been very impressed with CNN, I’m anxious to see what spin they put on the story. I just want to put a name and a face behind the “U.S. soldier” that died in that blast protecting journalists. The same profession that hasn’t publicly thanked him for all that he did while they were alive. I’m thanking him now.

To Alex’s family, I have never lost a family in combat, so I cannot feel your pain. I’ve lost friends and fellow soldiers who only minutes before their deaths were watching my back as I watched theirs. I truly hope that you understand the honorable sacrifice you have made and never forget that Alex’s death was not in vain. History will forever be grateful for the mission he was on when God took him from this earth to help greet other soldiers coming home. May God bless you in your time of suffering. If there’s anything I can do, please feel free to contact me.

Please spread the word and link this as far and wide as possible. It’s about time the world knew the name of the “U.S. soldier” killed alongside those journalists.

(39) Readers Comments

  1. Thanks CJ ~ will certainly get this out. Alex’s name should be told.

  2. CJ, Thanks for sharing. I have already sent it on.

  3. CJ,
    Thank You!

  4. Thank you CJ. To Alex’s family, there are not enough words to express my sympathy for their loss.

  5. Thanks CJ for sharing this info. I will definitely pass it on.

    My deepest sympathy to Alex’s family.

  6. Not sure how many people read this stuff, but Im more than happy to pass it around.
    Like everyone else, my deepest sympathy.

  7. It is hypocritical when the media make a big deal out of the deaths or injuries to one of their own (esp. in broadcast news). Yes, it is tragic. It is also tragic when a solider dies or is injured. But, there is much less coverage about it. The soldiers become just another number.

    Thanks C.J. for giving us a bit of insight into the honorable life of CPT James A. Funkhouser Jr.

    If anyone saw the CNN piece, please offer your comments. I did not see it.
    Mike

  8. Thank you for your research! I kept asking who the “US Soldier” was? The men and women who die protecting everyone else’s freedoms should be acknowledged and honored. Thank you for doing just that!

  9. Thanks for the info CJ. This young man definately SHOULD be remembered.

  10. Remembering is all that some of us have…Thank you for opening the eyes of the world to the injustices that is the media and our military

  11. CJ–

    Alex was my friend. We lived next door to eachother when he lived in California. Words can not express the loss those of us that loved him feel today. He was always looking out for his men–making sure they were comfortable and knew that people back home supported them. For his birthday I sent a 17 lb. care package, which he shared with his men—that’s the kind of guy he was—caring for others.

    I would like to tell all those people out there that, while grieving Alex’s death, we should also honor his memory by CONTINUING to support the troops.

  12. Also, to the poster who asked for comments on CNN’s piece on Alex. All I can say is that Jennifer is right…the troops there aren’t just a nameless, faceless number—the public needs to remember these are sons, fathers, husbands. Please don’t forget that. Here is a link to the CNN story:

    http://www.cnn.com/video/partners/clickability/index.html?url=/video/us/2006/06/02/costello.soldier.killed.family.reut

  13. CJ,
    Thanks for the picture and the article on this brave hero! God Bless his family and my prayers go out to them and to all like them who have lost loved ones in the military!

  14. CJ, what a wonderful article and thank you for sharing this man’s story and the picture. It certainly gave me pause. My prayers are with his family and all of those who loved him. America has lost a great hero.

  15. CJ,
    Thank you for your work in remembering Alex. I attended the Officer Basic Course with him at Fort Knox in 2000, and we were both stationed in Germany (different units) and trained together there. My prayers go out to his family. Alex made the Army a better place through his professionalism, sense of humor, and kind spirit. We’ll all miss him very much.

  16. Thanks CJ. I will be linking tomorrow on this. I’m sorry the news guys died, but they weren’t the only ones!

  17. CJ, That was a very thoughtful article. I’m Alex’s wife. I was sent a link to this site from Alex’s childhood friend. The media has been so present in my life over the last few days, and his friends and fellow soldiers have offered unending support. It’s just so wonderful to see other people that aren’t in it for a 3 minute news report or who don’t directly know my husband to say such kind things. Thanks again for posting my husband’s story.

  18. In your post, you said “duel hated”. I’m sure you meant duel hatted.

  19. Thank you CJ. I too have been waiting for days for the name of this soldier to appear in the news and for the media to recognize his sacrifice. Both he and his family deserved better treatment by the media.

  20. I was and continue to be hit hard by this news of the little boy next door who played with my daughter Kim. As we enjoyed each others family in day to day happenings and the outings of camping and 4x4ing we would never think of life’s road leading to this end result.
    What Alex’s passing and the story of it has done to me is to no longer listen to the “A Soldier” injured or killed on the news as just a generic phrase but will connect thru Alex to thoughts of Loved ones, Family, and friends their loss. We tend to forget, all often, lives of those that protect us and our country and center on our own small world of trials and tribulations on a day to day basis. No longer will I look at life the same as I also did prior to 911.
    Jim and Margaret, I wish you peace in your time of grief and loss and Jennifer, Alex will live on in Kaitlyn and Allison so he will always be with and part of you all. God bless you all.

  21. I saw the CNN piece this morning; I thought they did a good job allowing the Captain’s wife and father tell their story, and they showed some pictures of the Captain.

    The Houston Chronicle also had a story about him above the fold on the front of the “City and State” section on Friday.

    Most people say CNN is anti-military, and some of their people seem to be that way, but I find them much more likely to have stories about individual soldiers than Fox. At Fox, you pretty much don’t get air time unless you are a missing blonde. Most days their coverage of the war is the reporter on the balcony reading the list of explosions and that’s it.

  22. Thank you for putting Alex’s story out there. Alex is my cousin, and were are devestated by his death. I too have been frustrated by the lack of information about my cousin, but the sad truth is his death would not have even made the news had he not died with the CBS crew. Our soldiers are more than just casualties of war – they are someones child, spouse, parent, friend…they had lives back home…they have stories…they have names. Thank you for putting his story out there, I know that his death will never be in vain, he died for a noble cause, he was fighting for my freedom and the freedom of strangers half a world away. Alex is a hero – even if he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves, he will always be a hero.

  23. Brian and I are saddened by the news about Alex. We knew him and his parents when they lived in Orange County California. I worked with Margaret and she helped us adjust to newly married life. Alex was a wonderful son and the family were happy and an inspiration to us in how they raised Alex. Our hearts go out to all who loved him.

  24. I was profoundly touched by the story about Cpt James A. Funkhouser. Please let her know that I will not forget the good that her husband was doing. While I can’t say I know what she is going through I do know what it feels like to loose someone to war. My cousin was killed in Vietnam. I will tell my whole family about your husband and you and your two girls. I just wish we had more family’s like yours.

  25. To Alex’s Family
    June 5th, 2006 2:45pm

    Plese know there are lots of us folks thinking of you and praying for you at your sudden loss. Our thoughts and prayers are always with you and your family. God Bless you Always and Peace Be With you

  26. My husband Alex will be laid to rest with full military honors at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetary in San Antonio, TX on Friday, June 9th at 9 AM. I have just finished making the arrangements. It’s going to be a wonderful ceremony with a great celebration afterwards. Thank you to eveyone for all the support that I’ve received from family, friends, soldiers and strangers from around the country. I know Alex is just one of many, but maybe his death has and will force others to stop and notice when another soldier dies instead of barely paying attention to it in the news. I think that we are all starting to become immune to all of the death there and everywhere else. Iraq has been in our lives for the past few years and the deaths just don’t seem to be as important now. Please don’t let that happen. Take the time to notice another soldier fallen. Remember Alex and know that the next soldier is probably someone just like him.

    CJ – Thanks again for posting Alex’s story.
    Everone else – Keep remembering. I know that something good has to come from this.
    Alex – If you can hear me: ROCK ON!!! (A little inside joke)

  27. CJ, thank you for your efforts!

    The loss of every Soldier has great significance, but CPT Funkhouser’s service and sacrifice has particular significance to me…you see my husband and Alex have become very close, serving together in Iraq. In addition to that, my husband had been scheduled to take that mission and it was changed at the last minute.

    My husband says that Alex was a great man, a great Soldier and a great friend.

    I have not had the privilege of meeting CPT Funkhouser or his family. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children and all of his family. I pray that God will be with them and that they will always feel Alex’s presence with them.

    Alex’s death is a great loss, but he will never be “gone” as long as he is not forgotten…AND HE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!!!

    Sincerely,

    Cathy Horsfall

  28. I’ve been slacking on reading on any blogs. I am glad that Cj updated this story again because for some reason, I missed it the first time around. Paul and I actually saw the very last quote Mrs. Funkhouser said on this clip. I remember thinking I had wished I saw the whole clip. It’s just today when I read on here that this was the same clip I was wishing to see.

    Also, being from Texas, that t-shirt that Mrs. Funkhouser showed that she was going to give to her husband for Father’s Day, I have it. It’s one of my favorite shirts. Gotta love Davy Crockett!

    To CPT Alex Funkhouser’s family: I would like to thank you for your support and love of the military. I am sorry to hear about your loss. From what I’ve read and seen, CPT Funkhouser is an awesome guy. I said IS because in my faith, when one dies, they are still alive, just not on Earth. I know he is looking down on y’all and keeping y’all safe.

    Thanks Cj for posting this!

    ~Hilary (Misplaced Texan currently in Kentucky…trying to get back to Killeen, TX – my home town. First an Army brat, now an Army wife)

  29. CJ,
    Thanks for keeping us up to date. This is so hard. I know so many soldiers and civilian contractors over there and every time I hear that one is injured or KIA, my heart skips a beat. It is so hard for me to comment on this, so I wont. It just hits way to close to home for me. I just want to wish Alex’s family my condolences. The true heart of this Nation is with you.
    Cindy

  30. On Friday morning, before the sun rises, I will get on my motorcycle and ride to San Antonio (from Austin) to join many other fellow Patriot Guard Riders in a mission to show our respect and appreciation for the life of Cpt. Funkhouser and his family.

    It’s an honor and humbling to be invited to attend the services of this American hero, as it’s important to bear witness to the ultimate sacrifice that he paid for our freedoms and for our great nation.

    You shall not be forgotten. None of you shall be forgotten.

  31. Wish I didn’t have to work that day, since San Antonio isn’t that far from Copperas Cove, but will definately be there in spirit.

  32. Thanks for the article about Alex Funkenhauser. I’m just curious about the name chknhawk that you used in your post. Isn’t a chickenhawk someone who is pro-war but doesn’t want to fight it himself?

    Thank you,
    Patty

  33. Patty, that is one definition used for the word. Since I fought in OIF, that obviously doesn’t apply to me. I got the name in basic training after a pugil stick fight. I was paired with a guy much bigger than I am (I’m 5’5″). I ended up winning the entire contest and was given the name after the cartoon character in Foghorn Leghorn. Henery the Chickenhawk was always picking on people bigger than itself. Hope that explains.

  34. Jennifer,

    Our condolences. He was a great person and friend.

    We will miss him as I speak on behalf of my wife Glenda too. There is a lot I want to say. I will reserve this for later times. All I can say now is this hurt us deeply as your family is close to our heart. As a fellow Soldier, I am not ashamed to say that we shed tears as we learned what happened and I called Glenda to let her know. We feel your loss and will pray for you and your family. I am currently in Hawaii and just found out. Otherwise, we would be in Texas now to provide our support.
    Oscar and Glenda Malave

  35. My family’s condolences to you. We do know how it feels, as we lost our son, Darren Howe, last November. His funeral was on Veteran’s Day.

    There is nothing I can say or do to lessen the feelings. But, I can say that ‘time’ does have a quality to it. As time passes, more memories come forth and, although at times it’s painful, reminiscing can put a smile on your face and allow you to feel their presence.

    You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    One last note, thank God for the Patriot Guard! They were present for us as well. You are in good hands!

    Kindest Regards,
    Greg Klaus
    Nebraska

  36. My heartfelt deepest sympathy to the family of CPT James A. Funkhouser Jr.
    Words could never express how deeply sorry I am for your loss of your Grandson, Son,Brother,Husband,Father,Nephew, Cousin or friend.I pray that all of the wonderful,loving memories you hold within your hearts of this brave,couragious Hero will bring comfort on the most difficult days ahead.
    Sincerely Cathy
    Massachusetts
    Soldiers Angel
    and forever greatful
    American

  37. I knew Alex when we both stationed in Ft. Bliss Texas and then in Ft. Carson. I was devastated to here the news of his death.Alex was a great friend as well as leader for me and it hurts knowing I will never get to tell him this.We lost contact when he went to OCS and I left for recruiting school but i will always remember him and the fun times we had.My condolences go out to his wife and children, he was a good man.

  38. I went to SWT with Alex back in the 90′s. Alex was a great guy and I am very sorry to hear of your loss. I know Kimberly Dozier and I was just shocked to learn that both Kimberly and Alex were there at the same time. I hope that you are all able to find peace as you recover from your loss.

  39. Alex was a good man i wish i had the change to meet him. He will be missed by many people. I salute you Caption and will never forget.

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