RAEFORD – Maj. James Ahearn met Lena during his second tour of Iraq, converted to Islam to marry her and brought her home to the United States.
Two years later, the Iraqi woman is mourning the death of her husband.

Ahearn, 43, was killed Thursday in Baghdad when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. And Lena Ahearn said she is left feeling ashamed that her husband died in her country at the hands of her people.

Ahearn, a member of the 96th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade at Fort Bragg, was on his third tour of Iraq when he was killed. He had served in the Army for 18 years and was supposed to retire in 2009.

“Jimmy was the greatest gift I ever had,” Lena said from the couple’s home near the Army post where she lives with their 17-month-old daughter, Kadi. “I will never regret marrying him for two years and moving to the United States.”

Lena Ahearn said her husband tried to use his new belief in Islam to bridge the cultural gap between American soldiers and the Iraqi people.

“He told them there are no differences between people,” she said.

Now Lena Ahearn says she wants to become an American citizen, which she thinks would have made her husband proud.

And she’ll hold onto the memories of that good-looking American soldier who used his own money to buy toys for Iraqi children.

“He was the strongest and bravest man I ever saw in my life,” she said.


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