Friday, December 15, 2006

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Phaneuf

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Phaneuf, 38, of Eastford, Conn.

SSgt. Phaneuf was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Brigade, Hartford, Conn.; died Dec. 15 of injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Humvee during combat operations in Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan.

Soldier's Widow: 'He Was A Patriot'
Roadside Bomb Kills Connecticut-Based Guardsman

EASTFORD, Conn. -- A Connecticut-based soldier has been killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive, military officials confirmed Monday.

Connecticut Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Phaneuf II, 38, died Friday when a vehicle in which he was riding struck a roadside bomb.

"Saturday morning at 6:47, I heard a car pull into the driveway, and I peeked out the window," said Michelle Phaneuf, the soldier's wife.

Phaneuf was a member of the First Battalion 102nd Infantry and was one of three soldiers in the vehicle when the explosion occurred, Michelle Phaneuf said.

"It is very difficult to lose another great soldier who answered the call to duty," said Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, the adjutant general and commander of the Connecticut National Guard.

Michelle Phaneuf said her husband served in the military in the 1990s and re-enlisted after the 2001 terrorist attacks. He served in Iraq and volunteered for the Afghanistan-bound unit because he felt strongly about the need to serve overseas again, she said.

"He was a soldier, a patriot through and through," she said. "He felt he was needed to go over there and do what he could do."

"Joseph Phaneuf was a volunteer citizen-soldier who served his state and country in the truest sense," Gov. M. Jodi Rell said. "His example of service and sacrifice is as inspirational as his death is tragic."

The governor ordered flags lowered to half-staff on Monday.

He especially enjoyed working with the children and bringing them candy, ball point pens and other items they otherwise rarely could get, she said.

"I knew he was out and about, he loved being out. One of his favorite things was going into the villages, into the schools and surprising the kids," Michelle Phaneuf said.

Michelle Phaneuf said she last spoke with her husband by telephone on Wednesday. She and the couple's son and two daughters sent care packages of presents for Joseph Phaneuf to hand out.

Channel 3 Eyewitness News reporter Katy Zachry said the children are equally as proud of their dad. He coached them in sports, loved to take pictures of them and always made time to volunteer in Eastford.

"A lot of people can't understand why he went back again. That's fine, just be proud of him. When he was here, he did good. And when he was there, he was excellent," Michelle Phaneuf said.

"We're going to have Christmas," she said. "That's what he would have wanted, and that's what we're going to do."

Funeral and burial arrangements had not yet been made Sunday night, but Michelle Phaneuf said her husband told her he wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Eastford town buildings were draped in black over the weekend.

Phaneuf's battalion was mobilized in January and left for Afghanistan in April. It is scheduled to return to Connecticut in spring 2007.

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph E. Phaneuf was killed in action on 12/15/06.

No comments: