SIMS, AR, USA U.S. Army SSG, COMPANY C, 2D BATTALION, 505TH INFANTRY, FORT BRAGG, NC SAMARRA, IRAQ 03/05/2007
Flags were flown at half-mast throughout Arkansas in the memory of Justin Michael “Dutch” Estes.
Justin graduated from Oden High School in 2000. He was tall and the center of the basketball team and his name is on the banners in the Oden gym honoring their basketball accomplishments. That is where Justin’s funeral service was held.
The bleachers were packed on Thursday 15th March. He was killed in Iraq just two weeks before he was due to come home on March 20.
Staff Sergeant Estes was in the third humvee in a convoy when the first vehicle was blown up. He ran up into the fire and flames of the vehicle to rescue a fellow soldier to safety when a second explosion occurred and he was killed.
He lived in Montgomery County, AR in the small community of Sims. He is the first such casualty for Montgomery County since 1952. Don Estes will remember his son, Justin, as someone who gave freely.
Justin was a gregarious young man who liked to ride motorcycles and play pool. It was his second tour in Iraq. They last spoke Saturday, when they discussed motorcycles. Estes was looking forward to getting home this summer and riding his new Harley-Davidson, his father said. He had more friends than I ever thought about in my lifetime.
“People from all over the world are coming to his funeral, and we didn’t ask them to.” “He was perfect. That is all there is to it,” Donald Estes said.
Justin joined the Army in January 2001, and served in Korea before joining the 82nd Airborne in November 2005, where he was assigned as a fire team leader.
The Oden H.S. basketball coach, Jim Tucker shared personal reflections. “He made every second count while he was here at this school, while he played on this court,” Tucker said. “There were many times that we’d run – he’d go throw up, he’d come back, keep going and never complain. Usually, he had a smile.”
The Army chaplain said Estes understood the importance of his mission in Iraq and read this poem written in 1945:
The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak
Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses, who has not heard them?
They have a silence that speaks for them at night and when the clock counts.
They say,We were young. We have died. Remember us.
They say, We have done what we could but until it is finished it is not done.
They say, We have given our lives but until it is finished no one can know what our lives gave.
They say, Our deaths are not ours, they are yours; they will mean what you make them.
They say, Whether our lives and our deaths were for peace and a new hope or for nothing we cannot say, it is you who must say this.
They say, We leave you our deaths. Give them their meaning; give them an end to the war and a true peace; give them a victory that ends the war and a peace afterwards; give them their meaning.
We were young, they say. We have died. Remember us.