Marine From Montgomery County Killed in Iraq

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 3, 2009

James R. McIlvaine, who was born in Montgomery County and met his future wife at a movie theater in Olney, went on to become a sergeant in the Marine Corps.

"He loved his job. He loved what he did," his wife, Sheryl, said last night. "He was proud to be a Marine."

Sgt. McIlvaine, 26, died April 30 in Iraq while supporting combat operations in Anbar province, the Pentagon said.

He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"He is my hero," his mother, Joanne Ryan, who lives in Purcellville, said last night. "He is my hero, my number one guy."

She said she had just put a picture of the two of them on her Facebook page.

The sergeant was born at Montgomery General Hospital and graduated from Massanutten Military Academy in Woodstock, Va.

After graduation, he joined the Marines, his wife said. The two, who had worked together during the summer of 1999 at a multiscreen movie house in Olney, were married in August 2001 and had two children, Michael, 7, and Alexa, 3.

"He loved his children . . . his family," his wife said. Both families lived in Montgomery County, and his family included four sisters, she said.

"He was always going," she said. "Full of energy. He absolutely loved being a Marine" and was loved and respected by the Marines who served with and under him, she said.

He was also a dedicated fan of Washington sports teams.

He "loved the Washington Capitals" and the Redskins, she said.

After one deployment in Afghanistan, he was on his first deployment in Iraq, his wife said. He was serving in a mobile assault platoon, according to a fellow Marine.

In addition to overseas deployments, which included time in Okinawa, he had served at the base at Quantico.

Sheryl McIlvaine said she wanted any account of her husband's life to say "how much he did love being a Marine."

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