There wasn't a lot James M. Gurbisz didn't excel at. He was captain of the football team during his junior and senior years in high school. He also played varsity baseball, served as president of the student council and held a 4.5 grade point average.
"He was respected as a student and as an athlete," said Anthony Gaetano, who coached Gurbisz for two years of football. "He was that kid who was the team clown, but he was a leader as well. Kids followed him."
Gurbisz, 25, of Eatontown, N.J., was killed Nov. 4 by a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He was a 2002 graduate of West Point and was assigned to Fort Stewart.
His father, an Army helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, wasn't surprised when his son chose to go to college at West Point. As a boy, James loved to visit Fort Monmouth and always had an interest in the military, Kenneth Gurbisz said.
"That was Jimmy," his father recalled. "That was probably his calling, with all his dedication and all his hard work. He believed in what West Point stood for. And he did very well up there."
He also is survived by his wife, Victoria.