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Joshua H Reeves


The Defense Department has confirmed the combat death of a soldier one day after his wife gave birth to their son in Tennessee

Specialist Joshua Reeves, 22, died Sept. 22 when an improvised bomb exploded as the Humvee he was in traveled a street in Baghdad. His wife, Leslie Reeves, had returned to her native Hendersonville to be with her parents while she had the baby. She gave birth Sept. 21 and named her son Joshua Jackson Reeves.

The soldier’s parents also were told Sept. 22 of the death of the oldest of their five children. James and Jean Reeves live in Watkinsville, Ga., about 60 miles east of Atlanta. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade. The brigade has been in Iraq since February, part of the surge of 30,000 soldiers aimed at ending violence in Baghdad. He entered the Army in February 2005 and arrived at Fort Riley in July of 2005. This was his first deployment to Iraq.

Army officials presented Reeves’ parents with their son’s Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals Sept. 29 at Evergreen Memorial Park in Athens, Ga. His posthumous promotion to Corporal was in recognition of his service, which one of the officers said was “an example of what all American soldiers should strive to achieve.”

Speakers at his crowded funeral service remembered him as adventurous and funny but also a good listener. Reeves, an Eagle Scout, joined the Army because he wanted to fly helicopters.

“He was the least selfish person I had ever met,” his wife Leslie wrote in a statement that was read at the service. “He never judged others. He accepted people as they were and where they were and never talked bad about anyone. He was a strong and courageous man and helped me to become stronger than I ever thought I could be.”

Three years ago when their son told them he was going to join the Army, the Joshua’s parents were not surprised.

“He wanted to fly helicopters, that was his dream,” said James Reeves. “He went to an aviation school after high school but he decided that joining the Army would get him to that point quicker.” He would likely have gotten there, too.

“He was always determined, in everything,” his father added. “He was such a good-hearted person. Everybody loved him,” Jean Reeves said.

The couple was in Hendersonville on Sept. 24, two days after their son died. James Reeves nodded to the screen of a laptop computer. “Let me show you this,” he said.

His fingers clicked the keys, opening files until he found the photo he searched for. Another click magnified the image. Joshua sat cross-legged on the floor of an Iraqi house, a guest for a Ramadan meal. He looked at the camera with a quizzical smile as he held something to eat in his fingers. The specialist appeared to be at ease, among trusted companions.

“Isn’t that just absolutely the greatest shot?” James said, chin on his neck, tears flowing unchecked, shoulders bobbing from the sobs.

Now the photo becomes his son’s parting image.


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