LEE, ME, USA U.S. Army SGT, COMPANY D, 2D BATTALION, 8TH CAVALRY, 1 BCT, FORT HOOD, TX TAJI, IRAQ 06/23/2007
A Maine soldier who was laid to rest Tuesday will be remembered for his quiet dedication and his sense of humor that he kept even after suffering a severe head injury when a suicide bomber attacked his barracks earlier in the year.
Army Sergeant Joel A. House, 22, died June 23 from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb attack in Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. Three other soldiers from First Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, lost their lives in the attack.
Joined by all four members of Maine’s congressional delegation, Gov. John Baldacci called it “a great tragedy that Maine has lost another beloved and talented son.”
“We are grateful that he touched so many lives, and comforted to know that men and women like Joel walk amongst us and answer the call to service,” Baldacci told mourners gathered at Lee Academy, where House graduated in 2003.
Also speaking at the funeral were House’s brother Luke and father Paul, along with U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud and a sergeant from House’s unit. House, who was on his second tour in Iraq, suffered head wounds from a suicide bomb attack in March. After that attack, he spent time with his parents and brother and sister in Florida before returning to Iraq in April.
House, who enlisted right out of school, was described as a quiet and humble man with a knack for making people laugh with one-liners. He was devoted to his family and his faith, and he enjoyed playing the guitar, fishing, hunting and other outdoor activities. He managed to keep his sense of humor even after the barracks bombing that claimed the life of his best friend, his family said. He snapped a photo of his sleeping bag in the rubble and posted it on MySpace.com with the caption, “My sleeping bag got dirty.”
House came from a family with a long tradition of military service, and his great-great-grandfather, Maj. Charles James House, served in the Civil War. After his military service, he hoped to return home to help his dad, a registered Maine guide, and go to school to become a game warden, his mother said.
A summer camp scholarship program has been established by Joel’s family in his memory. (http://www.sgtjoelhouse.com/)
His family comments about the web site:
These pages are dedicated to the memory of our hero, Sergeant Joel A. House, who was killed in 2007 while serving in the U.S. Army by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq. Joel was known for his guitar playing, his understated sense of humor, and his fierce commitment to his family and friends. We–his family and friends–miss him so much but we are so proud of him. This scholarship program is our way of honoring Joel’s life and his ultimate sacrifice.