Army Reserve Center renamed

Sgt. James Holtom’s sacrifice is remembered

By J.M. Simpson on August 30, 2022

David Holtom recalled learning of the ultimate sacrifice his son, Sgt. James Holtom, made on Feb. 8, 2007 in Iraq.

"It seems like it was just yesterday that we learned of our son's death," he said. "I have no regrets about where he was, and who he was with, and what he was doing on the day his life was taken, no regrets. But I can tell you one thing, our family is thankful for this."

On the afternoon of Aug. 19, the Army Reserve Center, building 9720 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was renamed the Sergeant James J. Holtom Army Reserve Center.

Enlisting in the Army Reserve in 2003, Holtom was assigned to 3rd Platoon, Company A, 321st Engineer Battalion.

"I told him when he signed up to serve in the Army that he would go to Iraq," his father continued. "His response to me was ‘you know, I'll go.'"

Deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in September 2006, Sgt. Holtom served as a team leader and vehicle commander of a mine resistance ambush protected vehicle that was part of a route clearance team looking for improvised explosive devices.

"He was a quiet leader," recalled Sergeant Maj. Roy Smith, the battalion's first sergeant in the 321st deployment to Iraq in 2006-2007. "He led by example; he was a soldier's soldier. On a daily basis he was hands-on as much as anyone else; he quizzed his soldiers on their routes and actions; and he never yelled at his soldiers."

On Feb. 7, 2007, Holtom lead a team that had been tasked to conduct route clearance ahead of Marines who were engaged in an operation to recover crew members killed in a helicopter crash northeast of Fallujah near the town of Karma. During the mission the team found six IEDs. 

The next day, his platoon conducted a similar mission back to the crash site. During the operation, an IED detonated under his vehicle, killing him and two other soldiers.

"A parent's biggest fear is that he will be forgotten, and things like this help ease that in a big way," concluded David Holtom. "I am thankful for the memorialization of my son's name and service; his legacy will live on."