TAMPA, FL, USA U.S. Army SSG, HHC, 53D INFANTRY BRIGADE, PINELLAS PARK, FL KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN 06/24/2006
Joe made his entry into this mortal world on 24 July 1979 in Tampa, Florida. Weighing in at a mere 2 lbs 9oz, Joseph Frederick Fuerst III began achieving with his first breath. At four ¼ pounds he finally went home with his parents. Joe never stopped striving from then on.
He went from Tiger Cub to Eagle in Scouting. He was an alter server at Christ the King Catholic Church from seventh grade through high school. At H.B. Plant High School, he plied his physical skills on the swimming and diving team and lent his clear voice to the chorus. Joe came to revel in outdoor activities. Air boating on the water, four wheeling on land, or hanging from a parachute in the air – Joe took to them all. Upon high school graduation in 1998, Joe spent a couple of semesters at Hillsboro Community College before leaving his studies to enlist in the Army.
When he completed active duty, Joe returned to Tampa. Harboring a desire to serve others, he completed his degree in criminal justice and graduated from the police academy. Joe also joined the Florida Army National Guard. There Joe met and fell in love with a fellow soldier, Tara. Marching was not the only steps they took together. They also learned to dance the two-step for their March 2005 wedding. They bought a piece of property in nearby Brooksville where they planned to settle in after Joe’s enlistment was up. Not long after becoming husband and wife, however, both sergeants deployed to Afghanistan as part of the Florida Guard’s 53rd Infantry Brigade.
Joe was training Afghan National Army soldiers in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. The evening of 24 June 2006, his service to others came to an abrupt end. Small arms and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) fire fatally wounded Staff Sergeant Joe Fuerst as he was leading a mission in support of Operation Mountain Thrust. Over the course of his Army service, Joe earned several awards and medals including the Bronze Star with “V” (valor) device.
Joe, the former alter server, was laid to rest from his family church, Christ the King. The pews were crowded with family and friends spanning his youth, college, and Army days. His pastor, Father Desmond Daly, recalled a spirited man who thought well of everyone.
Sgt. Jorge Pozo, who served with Fuerst in Afghanistan, reminded the mourners that Joe “. . . loved his wife, and he loved what he was doing.”
Now Joe lies in a different Brooksville, Florida plot of land than the one he and Tara had planned. Gone but never forgotten. Rest in Peace!