Anne Weis said her son, Maj. James Matthew Weis, knew the risks of flying a Marine Corps helicopter in combat. She, too, was aware of the danger. So, the former Toms River resident said, she is at peace with her son’s death in Afghanistan last week because he died doing what he loved, for the country he loved. "My son signed up for this. He knew the risk," Weis, 66, said today from her home in Homestead, Fla. "Everyone in the military knows the risk. Life is a risk, but we just have to keep the faith."

Maj. Weis, 37, a highly decorated pilot and 16-year Marine Corps veteran, was one of two Marine officers killed in combat last Thursday in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold that has been the scene of some of the war’s fiercest fighting. Lt. Col. Mario D. Carazo, 41, was also killed in the attack. Carazo and Weis were assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., the Defense Department said.

Weis, a married father of two who grew up in Toms River and graduated from Rutgers University, is at least the 23rd service member with ties to New Jersey to die in Afghanistan since the war began in 2001. Nearly 100 others have died in Iraq since the invasion of 2003. "When he was in college all he wanted to do was fly," Anne Weis said of her son, who joined the Marines in December 1994. "I’m purely comfortable with this because my son died a hero for his country. My husband and I couldn’t be prouder."

Weis comes from a military family. His father, Paul, a retired dentist, is an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War. His brother, Maj. William Scott Weis, is a Marine Corps artillery officer now serving as a recruiting commander in Florida. Anne Weis, who moved to Florida from Toms River several years ago, said she was told by the military her son was responding to a call for air support by Marines who had been pinned down by Taliban fighters. When her son arrived at the scene, she said, his Cobra helicopter was hit by four surface-to-air-missiles fired simultaneously, a tactic of the Taliban, she said. "They get the ground troops to call in for help, they hide somewhere, and hit their target," she said, adding that her son served two tours in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan. "This is a nasty war. This is worse than Iraq."

Weis joined the Marines on Dec. 5, 1994, and was commissioned as an officer on March 23, 1996, said Cpl. Michael Stevens, a Marine Corps spokesman. His decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign and four Iraq Campaign Medals, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, and a Presidential Unit Citation-Navy, among others. Anne Weis said her son had also taught at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., which is also home to Marine Corps University. He is survived by his wife, Mae, and two sons, ages 5 and 7, of Oceanside, Calif. In Toms River, residents of the neighborhood where Weis grew up were stunned by the news.

"Oh, how sad," said Mary Suchocki, a former neighbor on Bent Hook Road. "I always felt a bond with those guys (Marines). They’re all such a good bunch of guys. It proves that whatever rank you are, you’re not immune from casualties."

Related Links article

Maj. James M. Weis Memorial Highway Receives New Signage






Humility - Spirituality - Teamwork

Inspired by James's Story?

Honor This Fallen Hero With Acts Of Service

Get Involved With TMF
TMF Stats:
001 78,000+ Veterans + Survivors Empowered
002 200,000+ Spartan Members
003 550,000+ Youth Living "If Not Me, Then Who..." Movement