NORTH HENDERSON, IL, US
CPT, 1ST BDE, 1ST INF DIVISION (TRANSITION TEAM), FORT RILEY, KS
06/17/2007, PANJWAY, AFGHANISTAN
Army Captain Joshua E. Steele died on June 17, 2007 of wounds sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (Transition Team), Fort Riley, Kansas. He and his unit were supporting operations in Panjway, Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. CPT Steele was twenty-six years old. He spent much of his 4 1/2-year military career at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He was assigned to the 5th and later the 35th engineering battalion at Fort Leonard Wood and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 with the 5th Engineering Battalion. Captain Steele was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Born in Galesberg, and a resident of North Henderson, Illinois, Josh Steele was raised on a farm near North Henderson and attended Immaculate Conception Parochial School in Monmouth and Alexis High School, He graduated from Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri and later graduated magna cum laude from the University of Missouri-Rolla in 2002.
He was earned a bachelor’s degree in geological engineering, and was active in Phi Kappa Phi and the Society of Military Engineers. and His degree reflected his childhood interest in rocks and dinosaurs, and history as well as the fantasy of J.R.R. Tolkein’s books. When he was thirteen, he adopted a mustang; and won a soil identification contest. He worked his way through War and Peace when he was eight, was an enthusiastic football lover even though he was not a star player; and was an excellent writer. He enjoyed playing capture the flag as a kid, and was a reader of military history. He was a member of the 4-H and FFA in Alexis; Civil Air Patrol in Galesburg; and was vice president of his junior class in high school. Josh’s faith in his friends, family and what he was doing was all placed upon a strong Catholic faith in God framework.
He was commissioned in the Army in 2002 and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and assigned to the 5th and later the 35th Engineering Battalion. He was previously deployed in Iraq and the Republic of Georgia before being sent to Afghanistan in January 2007.
He was honored by members of the Patriot Guard Riders saluting him, as did his brother, an Air Force Master Sgt, and his sister an Army 1st Lieutenant. He also leaves behind his parents, grandparents, extended family and friends.
Recalling his sense of humor made Gina Steele smile briefly on this saddest of days. She said when he was still fairly young, as he was eating some of his mother’s lasagna, he leaned over and said to Lucinda, “This lasagna is missing something – taste.”
She had one more memory to share, of when she went off to college; Josh was only 7. She asked if he would miss her. She said her brother was very honest about everything, even this.
‘”Well, you know, Gina, I get busy, and when I’m busy, I don’t think of you that much,'” she said Josh told her.
With emotion that would eventually overwhelm her creeping into her voice, Gina had a message for Josh.
“No matter how busy I ever get, I am never going to stop thinking about you,” she said, “and I am never going to stop missing you, Joshua. … I love you so much.”