EL PASO, TX, USA U.S. Army SSG, COMPANY A, 3D BATTALION, 7TH SPECIAL FORCES GROUP, FORT BRAGG, NC GHUR GHURI, AFGHANISTAN 09/16/2009
A native of this city who earned the right to wear the U.S. Army’s Green Beret died Wednesday after a roadside bombing in Afghanistan. Staff Sergeant Joshua M. Mills, 24, and two other Army Special Forces soldiers died the day after their vehicle was attacked as they patrolled the streets of Ghur Ghuri in the southern province of Helmand, according to Army officials.
“Josh loved his family, he loved his country, and he loved being a Green Beret,” said Quent Mills, the soldier’s older brother. Quent Mills is the head coach for Chapin High School’s varsity softball program. “He loved his job even though he knew it was dangerous.”
Quent Mills said that early on, his younger brother had two career choices, one of which was the Army.
“He (also) wanted to be a paleontologist,” Quent Mills said. “He loved dinosaurs.”
At about age 8, he decided to leave the dinosaurs behind. Joshua Mills graduated from the Silva magnet school where he was a member of the Junior ROTC. He was on the rifle team, Quent Mills said.
“That was his favorite thing about high school — ROTC,” Quent Mills said.
He said his younger brother followed in their father’s footsteps. Tommy Mills was an air defense soldier who retired from Fort Bliss. Family was as important to Joshua Mills as career. Despite the demands of training and deployment, he almost always managed to make it home for Christmas, Quent Mills said.
“He would always try to surprise you,” Quent Mills said, his voice breaking with emotion. “He’d come into town, but he wouldn’t tell you. He would just show up on your doorstep.”
The family managed to turn the tables this year when they all went to Fort Bragg, N.C., where Joshua Mills was stationed, to celebrate the Fourth of July
“That was the last time our whole family was together,” Quent Mills said. “He was surprised.”
Joshua Mills joined the Army in 2005 as a Special Forces candidate, and successfully completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in March of that year. He was a communications sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He also successfully completed the Basic Airborne Course and the Special Forces Sniper Course. Mills deployed to Afghanistan on July 15. Quent Mills said his brother loved the camaraderie of the Special Forces and believed in the mission.
“He didn’t talk much about it,” Quent Mills said. “They’re not supposed to.”
As a way of explaining his job, he translated the unit’s motto, “De oppresso liber” for his brother.
“It means ‘Free the oppressed,’ ” Quent Mills said.
Survivors include his wife, Magen, and son, Malaki, of Raeford, N.C.; and his mother, Celeste, of El Paso.