PORTLAND, OR, USA U.S. Army SPC, D CO, 2D BN, 162D INF, 255 N. NORMAN, COOS BAY, OR 97420 BAGHDAD, IRAQ 06/04/2004
Specialist Justin Linden, 22, who lived in Portland, Ore., was a 1999 graduate of Clinton High School. He served with the Oregon-based Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment. Linden’s mother, Donna Beckman, of Elkhorn, said her son moved to Portland with friends about four years ago. He and his wife, Sarah, married on Feb. 28, before he was shipped to Iraq.
“They were planning on having a big wedding reception when he got back,” she said.“He was a very brave man and he died for his country,” Linden’s mother said.
Relatives of Linden and two other Oregon National Guard soldiers killed in the attack were comforted at a briefing on Sunday at the Guard armory in Woodburn, Ore. Linden’s wife recalled meeting him while working at a KFC in Portland. She said Justin never missed a chance to brighten a shift.
“He was in the back singing (the Tim McGraw song) ‘I Like It, I Love It,”’ she said. “He made everybody laugh.”
Justin Linden went on to become manager of KFC restaurants in Portland but wanted a career in law enforcement, or possibly acting.
In a memorial service this week, Specialist Justin Linden was remembered Monday for his comic charm, love of music and devotion to his country. Linden volunteered for service after the shock of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Once in the war, however, he was able to joke in letters to his wife, Sarah, about the less-than-ideal conditions and the strange sights in the desert.
“One day we were driving and we heard, ‘It’s coming right at us,”’ Linden read aloud at the service. “We looked up and there was a camel about to T-bone our Humvee. It missed us, but it was pretty funny.”
Linden, 22, died June 4 when his vehicle pulled over to help a unit from New Jersey struck by a bomb. A second explosive device went off as Linden and another soldier, Sergeant Nathan Melton, exited their truck to secure the blast site.
Governor Ted Kulongoski, attending his second memorial service in two days, told Linden’s family: “The people of Oregon wrap their arms around you … Together we have lost a wonderful and courageous young man.
During the service at the New Hope Community Church, a montage of pictures showed Linden’s easygoing personality and playfulness. His wide grin was prominent in almost every snapshot. Linden was shown as a chubby baby in a highchair and then as a tot with a ball. A few pictures later, he was a teen posing awkwardly for the camera. Next, he was in his cap and gown. The last pictures showed Linden in the military — wearing his fatigues in front of a flag, laughing and smiling in foreign places.
Besides his wife, Linden is survived by his parents, Donna Beckman and Wayne Linden, three brothers and a half-sister.