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U.S. Marine from Thurmont dies in Iraq

August 01, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

THURMONT, MD. - A Marine from Thurmont died in Iraq on Thursday, the Pentagon said - the second Catoctin High School football player killed in combat in 10 weeks.

Lance Cpl. James W. Higgins Jr., 22, was one of four Marines killed Thursday in Iraq's Al Anbar province, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement released Monday. Details were not given.

"James was a very serious, polite, straightforward young man," said Tom Sherald, Catoctin's athletic director. "He had a crew cut his whole time in high school. He was in the Civil Air Patrol and wore his uniform. He was a 'yes sir, no sir' kind of a young man, a role model."

Higgins was deployed to Iraq in January and earned several honors, including a Purple Heart, according to his obituary.

Another Catoctin graduate, U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert A. Seidel III, 23, was among four soldiers killed in Baghdad on May 18 after an improvised explosive device went off near their Humvee, the DOD reported at the time.

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Sherald said Higgins, a 2003 graduate, and Seidel, a 2000 graduate, played football and conducted themselves in the same way.

"Both loved the military ...," he said. "I could see both of them being put in positions of responsibility. ... They were in the top percentage of just nice, reliable, good kids."

Higgins and Seidel played offense and defense for Catoctin's football team. Both were disciplined enough to play several positions well, Sherald said.

Higgins was assigned to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, Calif., the DOD said.

The three Marines killed with him were from Tennessee, Ohio and North Carolina, according to the DOD. They were based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Higgins' obituary says he played football at Catoctin on the junior varsity team in ninth grade and on the varsity team in 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

In 2002, after his senior season, as a defensive end, he was named to second team defense in The Herald-Mail's all-area selections.

He was on the honor roll all four years.

His obituary says he joined the Marines in April 2005 and completed basic training three months later.

Sherald said Higgins' younger brother played football at Catoctin and his younger sister was a cheerleader there.

A funeral service will be held Friday. He will be buried with full military honors at Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Frederick, Md., his obituary says.

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