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Letters relate love for family

Esquire is printing notes from Utahn to his son and sister

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"If for some reason I don't make it home, I will need you to take care of your little sister and your Mom. You will be the Man of the Cawley family," the Utah Marine wrote to his young son shortly before heading to the Iraq war.

"Be good my son and God will watch over you as he has me. I will be waiting impatiently for the time when we can all be together again.

"All my love, Dad."

The letter from Staff Sgt. James W. Cawley of Layton heads an article in the edition of Esquire magazine that will be on newsstands Jan. 20. Like others in the piece, it was sent home by a service member who did not return alive from the war. The magazine provided the Deseret Morning News with a copy of the article.

Cawley, 41, was killed March 29, 2003, in a firefight near Nasiriyah, Iraq, when he was struck by a coalition Humvee. He was buried in the Roy Cemetery, as he had requested in his last note.

The magazine published two notes from Cawley, the first from Feb. 18, 2003, addressed to Randy and Julie Hanson (his sister), the second to his son Cecil, 8.

In the first, Cawley details his wishes for his funeral in case he doesn't return alive. These requests, including the reading of the Rudyard Kipling poem "If," were carried out during the April 20, 2003, funeral.

"The military will help defray a lot of the cost of burial except the plot I believe," Cawley wrote. "I would like full Military honors, which the Marine Corps should provide, but I would like my good friends on the Salt Lake Police Dept. SWAT Team to be involved also."

Hundreds of military and police personnel participated in the funeral. SWAT team members took part in a "last call" ceremony in which a dispatcher called all members of the team, ending with the unanswered call for Cawley.

In the note, Cawley wrote that his wife, Miyuki, might want to move back to Japan if he were killed, "but I would hope that the family will not lose contact with Cecil, Keiko (the Cawleys' daughter, 6), and Miyuki.

"Please write and inquire after them from time to time."

In the message to Cecil, Cawley said that on Sept. 11, 2001, the day the World Trade Center was attacked, he knew he would eventually have to go, "and I was filled with a deep sense of sadness."

"That night as you and Keiko were asleep, I looked at your little faces and couldn't help but fight the tears. I knew it would be hard for you because I had a similar experience."

When he was 6, his father was sent to the Vietnam War. "I remember how much I missed him, too," he wrote.

"But now unfortunately I have come to realize just how rough it must have been for Grandpa to be away from his children for a year. Thinking about this, I wanted to put my thoughts and feelings down for you and your sister."

He wrote about his sorrow at having to leave for a long time, and the great joy he experienced with the children.

"I hope to have many more years with you," Cawley wrote. "If this doesn't happen, then know that I love you more than words can express."

Kim Coons, James Cawley's sister, said the family is happy about the Esquire article. That includes Miyuki, who has decided to stay in the United States.

"We were really pleased with all the coverage that he's been given," said Coons, a resident of Roy. "The letters really were touching things, especially the letters to his children in the event that he passed away.

"It's really a legacy to them, and something I'm sure they'll treasure for the rest of their lives."

E-mail: bau@desnews.com