March 17, 1986 – February 2, 2023

James R. “Jimmy” Pruitt, 36, was declared lost at sea on Feb. 2, 2023, while scuba diving in the waters of Guam. Jimmy received his undergraduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University, majoring in Mass Communications. During undergrad, he moved to Japan as an exchange student and remained to teach English. He fell in love with Japan, spending much of his time traveling the country and SCUBA diving at every opportunity.

Jimmy returned to the States to attend East Carolina University’s (ECU) Maritime Studies Program (2013-2015). He was already a highly skilled diver and dive instructor, loved to discuss the technical side of diving, and delighted in any challenging underwater environment. During his two years at ECU, he took every opportunity to advance his career and received several awards and professional internships, including one the Naval History and Heritage Command.

James “Jimmy Pruitt in Guam. Photo courtesy Sakura Pruitt.

Jimmy worked as a marine archaeologist employed by AECOM and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Historic Preservation Office. In April 2019, he temporarily joined Ships of Discovery on a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency project in Palau to recover the remains of service personnel lost in WWII. Jimmy’s technical diving expertise and archaeological skills directly contributed to the recovery of two airmen, leading to their eventual identification and family reunification. In August 2020, Jimmy moved to Guam and took an archaeologist job for the Department of Defense, Naval Base Guam.

As his friends and colleagues can attest, Jimmy was full of life, quick with a joke and a smile, and took on every challenge with a lightheartedness that was both contagious and inspiring. His wife Sakura and their three children survive him. Jimmy had the mind of a scholar, the soul of an explorer, and the loving heart of a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. Good people leave big holes and Jimmy is and will continue to be missed. 

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