Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson, 27, of West St. Paul, Minn.

Sgt. Hanson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry, Minnesota National Guard, Detroit Lakes, Minn.; died Aug. 30 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle during combat operations, in Khaldea, Iraq.

Rural Minnesota town mourns death of National Guard soldier

SOLDIER:Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanson of Dent, Minn., was the 43rd soldier with ties to Minnesota to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. Six other soldiers were injured in the same attack.

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Residents of nearby Dent are remembering Staff Sgt. Joshua Robert Hanson, a National Guard soldier who died when a roadside bomb ripped through his Humvee in Iraq.

Hanson died Wednesday near Khalidiyah, the National Guard said Friday. The attack wounded six other National Guard soldiers from Minnesota, though they were able to return to duty.

"Josh was a wonderful and loving son and a great friend," said Lt. Col. Kevin Gutknecht, reading from a family statement. "He was proud to serve his country as duty called. We can't express enough how proud we are that he was willing to lay down his life for all of us. He and his comrades are real heroes."

Hanson's parents and brother attended a news conference at the armory here but didn't speak. Hanson was assigned to Company A, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry, which is based in Detroit Lakes.

Dave Knopf, whose son, Justin Knopf, 24, was injured in the explosion, described Hanson as quiet and soft spoken.

"But I'm sure he was very determined, and he was there to do his job," he said. "The last time I saw him I gave him a hug, so that was the last time I'll have that opportunity."

Hanson's death affects the entire community because nearly everyone knows someone who's serving in Iraq, Knopf said. Dent, a town of just 200 people, is about 20 miles south of Detroit Lakes.

He was the 43rd person with Minnesota ties to have died in connection with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Also Thursday, the Pentagon reported the death of 20-year-old Spc. Qixing Lee of Minneapolis, who was part of the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Hood, Texas. He died Sunday, also after an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle.

Hanson joined the National Guard between his junior and senior years at Pelican Rapids High School.

He was a team leader responsible for two or three other soldiers and would have been in charge of the Humvee in which he was riding, a 3-ton armored Humvee with bulletproof glass, military officials said.

Jessica Fahje, a high school classmate and friend of Hanson, said she last saw him around Christmas at a going-away party. She kept in e-mail contact with him while he was in Iraq and said he constantly told her not to worry about him.

"We were going to see him in October. He was going to come home for a little leave," she said. "He didn't know his dates, yet. We were going to plan a little hayride for him and get all the classmates together, but we're going to be getting together for a different reason now."

Army Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson was killed in action on 08/30/06.


Anonymous said...

Josh was in Law Enforcement traing with me...He was one of those people that always had a smile on his face. He will be missed...


Anonymous said...

Josh was a pen pal to me when I was younger, and he was an extremely special person to me. I never got a chance to meet him, but I knew he was a great person, by the way he wrote and by the way that people spoke of him. I know this is four years late, but, my condolences to his family, he was a fantastic young man.