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Marine From Ill. Dies, Another Missing

March 26, 2003

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) _ A Marine from Illinois drowned while trying to cross a canal in Iraq, and another Marine involved in the same mission is missing, a military official said Tuesday.

Cpl. Evan James of La Harpe disappeared underwater while attempting to cross the Saddam Canal in southeastern Iraq on Monday, said Gunnery Sgt. James Howard of the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Peoria, where the two men are based. His body was recovered Tuesday, Howard said.

Sgt. Brad Korthaus, 29, of Davenport, Iowa, was still missing late Tuesday, Howard said. Two other Marines made it across the canal in the same mission.

Howard said the Marines were on a mission to secure a water point as part of the war in Iraq.

James, 20, was studying to be a physical fitness trainer at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, and joined the Reserves to help pay for college, said his aunt, Diane Kornegay of La Harpe.

He went overseas in February and last talked to his girlfriend about two weeks ago, his aunt said.

James played football and basketball at La Harpe High School, where he graduated in 2000, said Charles Apt, the school’s principal.

``He was just a normal kid, someone you feel good having over there doing that job and we’re proud of him for doing it,″ Apt said.

Three Marines came to Steve Korthaus’ door Monday night and told him the Marines had been swimming across the canal when his son disappeared. They couldn’t tell him why the men were crossing, he said.

Bradley Korthaus, of Davenport, Iowa, ``wanted to be a Marine since he was 10 years old,″ said his father, himself a Marine who served in Vietnam. His son last called home a week before he left for Kuwait in February, Steve Korthaus said.

``He would have been mad if he didn’t get to go,″ the father said.

Korthaus is engaged and was planning a wedding upon his return. His father said his family is hopeful that he is alive.

``He is a survivor,″ Steve Korthaus said.

Update hourly