James Edward Harper, III. February 29, 1968 – June 30, 2017
With great sadness comes the passing of Lieutenant Colonel James Edward Harper, III. Jim passed away, along with his son J.J. and close family friend Master Sergeant Erin Smith and her daughter, Autumn, in Donnelley, Idaho on June 30, 2017. Jim’s life will be honored on Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 11am at the Calvary Chapel Boise, 123 Auto Drive. Jim will be interred at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery, 10100 N Horseshoe Bend Road, at 2pm following the service.
Jim was born in Los Angeles, CA to his father James E. Harper, II, and mother Berta Gonzalez Harper. As a youth Jim enjoyed sports, the outdoors, and playing with his toy soldiers. He was always full of energy and had aspirations of serving in the military. After a brief time in Oklahoma, Jim moved to Boise with his father in the early 1980’s. He attended Borah High School where he wrestled and played football. Jim was a talented athlete. Mr. Harper recalled that Jim ran circles around people in the gym. Jim graduated from Boise State University in 1994 with a BS in Business and earned his MBA in 2015, graduating Magna Cum Laude, from the University of Phoenix.
Jim joined the Idaho Army National Guard in 1989 and enjoyed a highly successful military career and had unparalleled passion for serving his country and caring for his troops. He was an outstanding soldier and leader. As his career took him across the globe, Jim excelled in every position he served. In 2004, Jim deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and again in 2010 in support of Operation New Dawn. He also served in Germany, Canada, Cambodia, Romania, and at several locations in the United States. As testament to his outstanding abilities, Jim earned two Bronze Star medals, four Army Commendation Medals as well as several others including the Combat Action Badge. Jim achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 2013, was fully devoted to the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team and always placed his Soldiers before himself.
Jim was constantly in motion, enjoying scuba diving, concerts, cruises, the Olympics, and trips to Hawaii and Disneyland. He always took the opportunity to enjoy life. There are countless people who consider Jim their best friend, and none of them are wrong. He always selflessly gave his time for his friends.
As devoted to military service as Jim was, his ultimate reason for being was his son, J.J. They were virtually inseparable. They shared Boise State football games, travel, skiing, sports, and the outdoors. Jim was a true Dad, teacher, coach and mentor to J.J. There was nothing Jim would not do help J.J. become the best young man he could be. Jim was a man of virtue and honor and instilled these values in J.J. who was absolutely a young man of the highest respect and dignity.
Jim is survived by his parents; stepmother Precious; sister Christina; girlfriend Victoria; countless friends; and brothers and sister-in-arms in the Idaho Army National Guard.
The Harper Family requests that, instead of gifts and flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Idaho Guard and Reserve Family Support Fund (nationalguard.idaho.gov/FamilyPrograms/Igrfsf.html) or the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org).