While contemplating a career in the United States Marine Corps, a young man from Arlington Heights was asked six years ago if he was prepared to give the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He'd said he was, and this week he did.
Lance Cpl. James B. Stack was shot and killed Wednesday -- the Corps 235th birthday -- while on foot patrol in Afghanistan's Helmand Province. He'd been in the country for just one month.
At 20 years old, Stack was a son, a brother, a new father and a husband.
His father on Thursday recounted a meeting his son once had with the family's friend and pastor. The man, himself a Marine veteran, asked the then-14-year-old boy if the military was something he really wanted to join.
"James, are you prepared to meet your savior? Are your prepared to die?" Stack's father, Bob Stack, recalls the pastor asking his son.
The boy said he was, adding that he saw the Corps as an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than himself. He finally enlisted in April 2009.
Stack was a rifleman, and prior to the military was a nationally-ranked air pistol shooter in the 2008 Junior Olympics.
Stack was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, California. He's the sixth soldier from that base to die this week.
He's survived by his wife, Katie, his 1-year-old daughter, Mikayla, and his parents, Robert and Linda Stack.
Robert Stack said he plans to fly to Dover Air Force Base to be there as his son's body arrives on American soil. Services are pending.