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Purple, gold and green for this Marine

1st Lt. James Sheasley ('02) cheers on the Dukes
By Katie O'Dowd ('07)

1st Lt. James Sheasley ('02)

1st Lt. James Sheasley ('02)

1st Lt. James J. Sheasley ('02) has cheered on the Dukes all the way from Iraq, listening to Internet audio broadcasts of football games. "Because of the time difference, games start when it's late at night or early in the morning here," Sheasley says. "But as combat operations are conducted 24/7, it's not that big of a deal to be up at those hours."

Sheasley, an information systems officer, was stationed at Camp Blue Diamond in Ramadi, Iraq, from January 2005 to January 2006. He worked around the clock, logging 14- to 16-hour days, seven days a week. His duties included "secret and unclassified Web, chat and collaboration services." He worked with computers and communications systems, as well as people. "I administered and tweaked information systems and processes so that information could be shared with those who needed it in order to speed commanders' decision cycles."

Marine Corps—lessons on leadership

Sheasley says he joined the Marine Corps so he could support himself through college. "The Marine Corps taught me how to lead with unselfishness, tact, integrity and decisiveness," he says. "I decided to take a commission after school because I wanted to lead Marines. I didn't want a desk job where I'd be writing code or working solely with computers day in and day out." His JMU friends admire his dedication and spirit for both JMU and his country. "He was always the guy that was at the games having a great time, but you could always tell that there was a level of seriousness to everything he did," says David Gould ('00). "He worked hard to put himself through school, but he was always able to have fun."

Sheasley was also involved with numerous organizations and clubs at JMU, including the ROTC, the JMU Ranger Group, Kappa Delta Rho, the Student Officials Association and the Student Duke Club; and he worked as equipment manager for the football team.

"JMU's Army ROTC program really showed me that the Army has a different way of doing business and a different mentality," Sheasley says. "That prepared me for my work in Iraq because we work and coordinate with the Army a lot."

A big JMU fan

As equipment manager for the football team, Sheasley showed his enduring support for the team and the university. "I am a big JMU fan," he says. "A lot of that stems from my experience working with many of the current players and staff."

Sheasley also says his work with the football team has encouraged him to pursue graduate school and a graduate assistant football coaching position in the future.

"When James was worlds away, fighting in the Middle East, he continued to be a part of the JMU community" — Patrick Reed ('05)

"When it seemed like nobody else cared about JMU sports, James always bled the purple and gold," said Chris Nahlik. Another friend, Patrick Reed ('05), says he has never seen a supporter of JMU like Sheasley. "Most people who move far away from their university after graduation lose touch with one of the important experiences of their lives. When James was worlds away, fighting in the Middle East, he continued to be a part of the JMU community not only by following the athletics teams, but also by maintaining great relationships with students and alumni."

Read a Q&A with Sheasley and Mary Macdonald Jones ('91) on the Richmond Dukes' Chapter Web site. Log onto www.richmonddukes.com and click on the "Dukes in Uniform" link. A longtime alumna volunteer, Jones designed and maintains the Richmond Dukes Web site.