Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier, 24, of Spotsylvania, Va.

Sgt. Frazier was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Feb. 6 while conducting combat operations in Anbar province, Iraq.

Local Marine killed in Iraq
Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier

Local Marine is killed by sniper

Joshua J. Frazier was scheduled to return from Iraq in April, but decided to re-up for a third tour.

The newly promoted sergeant didn't want to leave the young Marines he was now leading on their own. By staying, he told friends and family, he believed he could keep his men safe.

The Spotsylvania County Marine was killed by a sniper in Iraq late Monday, his family said yesterday. He was 24.

Frazier had been serving in the Ar Ramadi area of Iraq as part of the Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.

His mother, Shelia Cutshall, last spoke with him Sunday night, when he called home with news of his promotion.

"He was upbeat," she said. "I told him I missed him, and he said he missed me, too."

Frazier, who left for his second deployment to Iraq last September, also told her about his plan to extend his stay, and the reasons for that.

To those who knew him best, it was typical Josh.

It was the same guy who would stay with a friend all night after a buddy lost a relative.

It was the same young man who would visit a casual acquaintance in the hospital for hours.

It was the same person who would spend what little free time he had on leave taking family and friends' kids to Lake Anna and birthday parties.

And, above all, they said, it was the same son and brother who would drop anything for his family.

Yesterday afternoon, his mom's house was filled with tangible reminders of the Spotsylvania High graduate.

At one end of the living room, a family friend held onto "Teddy," the stuffed bear Cutshall received as a gift when she was six months pregnant with her second son.

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Frazier still slept with the bear when he was home.

On one couch was a blanket with a dragon on it that he had sent his mom for her 50th birthday. A dragon is a sign of strength in Korea, where he once deployed, he told her.

On another sofa rested a small quilt with the Marine insignia and the large words, "Welcome Home Josh." It was prepared for his last return home from Iraq.

The blanket was signed by many of the same friends and family who were gathered at the home yesterday.

Memories flowed.

Frazier collected guns and loved all things Spider-Man. He had a huge handshake, but a warm, sheepish smile.

He was a partier, they recalled with a laugh, but that never kept him from church come Sunday morning.

Michelle Luehrs had known him since grade school.

"He was so full of life and energy and so passionate about so many things. And he cared so much about people," she said. Frazier was the godfather to her 7-year-old son, Xavier.

She remembered what he said when she tried to talk him out of extending his term with the Marines.

"He said, 'Michelle, there's a lot of really bad people over here and I can't go home while they're still here.' He didn't want Xavier to have to go over when he was 18. He felt like it was on his shoulders."

Aaron Mallin, 29, Frazier's older brother, said Josh was proud of the difference he was making in Iraq. He once told Mallin, for instance, that his unit was serving in what has been described as the most dangerous intersection in the world.

Since Frazier and his fellow Marines moved in, he told Mallin, people could once again cross the street without being killed.

"And he was very proud of that," Mallin said.

Dad Rick Frazier said his son's strong will was what made him unique.

"That helped him get through life. He worked very hard at being an individual. But I think the most important thing I can say about my son was that he loved his family and we'll sorely miss that part of him," he said.

"He believed in the United States and believed what he was doing was right. He gave his life for what he thought was the right thing to do."

Death of a celebrity, and a hero

By Jeff Mullin, Commentary - Enid News & Eagle - Enid, OK

Joshua Frazier died Tuesday. His death went relatively unnoticed, particularly when compared to the media frenzy that followed the untimely demise of Anna Nicole Smith.

That is understandable, of course, since Smith was, if nothing else, famous.

She might have been famous simply for being famous, but her name had become a household word.

Smith’s fame seems a testament to the cult of celebrity that grips this country. We love celebrities, or, at least, we love to scrutinize every aspect of their lives.

We hang on every juicy detail of their love lives, from the first blush of romance to the wreckage left strewn in the wake of their breakup.

We want to know where they live, how they live, with whom they live and what substances in which they indulge to help them get through their lives.

We love them when they succeed, we envy them when they are at their sleek, beautiful, sexy, talented best. But we take guilty satisfaction in their downfall, as well. We can’t look away when they gain weight, get arrested for drunk driving, shame themselves by spouting racial epithets or slide into the morass of addiction.

In return celebrities crave our attention. Without the public, they would have no career. But after a time, all try, largely without success, to hold the public at arm’s length, to submit to the relentless scrutiny of adoring fandom only on their own terms.

It never works. In the world of celebrity, there is no having your cake and eating it too.

Joshua Frazier was no celebrity. He was a 24-year-old kid from Spotsylvania, Va., located just off I-95 south of Washington.

He was, by all accounts, a good kid. When a friend had a death in the family, Josh would sit up with them all night, if need be. If someone he knew, even casually, was in the hospital, Frazier would spend hours visiting them. When he was home, Josh Frazier even slept with a teddy bear, one given to his mother when she was pregnant with him.

No one ever saw fit to base a reality series on his life. If they had, they would have focused on a young man who would party on Saturday night, but was always up for church on Sunday morning.

Josh Frazier collected guns and was a huge fan of Spider Man.

Television news programs did not devote long minutes to coverage of Josh Frazier’s death, as they did with Anna Nicole Smith. Magazines will not feature the demise of Josh Frazier on their covers, as they will Anna Nicole. Smith, after all, helps sell magazines.

Why do such people fascinate us? Is it because we wish we could be them, or because we are so glad we’re not?

Anna Nicole Smith was an exotic dancer, turned Playboy playmate, turned blushing bride to an 89-year-old billionaire, turned widow embroiled in a legal fight over her late husband’s estate, turned model, turned grieving mother and now martyr on the altar of society’s obsession with celebrity.

She shared much with her idol, Marilyn Monroe — her blonde hair, her figure, her pouty beauty. But Marilyn had something Anna Nicole lacked, talent. In the end they share an untimely death surrounded by mystery and innuendo.

There is no mystery surrounding the death of Josh Frazier. After graduating from Spotsylvania High School, he enlisted in the Marines, because he wanted to make a difference.

He was on his second deployment to Iraq, and served with Company A, First Battalion, Sixth Marine Regiment in the Ar Ramadi region of Iraq.

Frazier described the area to friends as the most dangerous intersection in the world. Aaron Mallin, Josh’s older brother, told the Fredricksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star Josh was proud of the difference he and his fellow Marines were making in Iraq. Frazier said once his unit moved into the area, local people could again cross the street without being killed.

“And he was very proud of that,” Mallin told the paper.

Michelle Luehrs, a friend of Frazier’s since grade school, had tried to talk him out of extending his most recent tour in Iraq, a decision he made only recently.

“He said, ‘Michelle, there’s a lot of really bad people over here and I can’t go home while they’re still here,’” Luehrs told the Free Lance-Star.

Frazier talked to his mother, Sheila Cutshall, a week ago. He told her of his recent promotion, and his plans to re-up for a third tour in Iraq.

Tuesday a sniper’s bullet ended the life of Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier. His death made news in his hometown, but elsewhere he was merely a statistic.

We have a skewed sense of what is important, when the death of a celebrity dominates the airwaves and is considered front page news, and the death of a fighting man or woman is treated almost as an afterthought.

Anna Nicole Smith was a troubled celebrity whose life ended too soon. Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier was a hero.

I pray we never lose sight of the difference.

Marine Sgt. Joshua J. Frazier was killed in action on 02/06/07.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the touching memorial for Josh. I knew him before he joined the Corps and when I heard the knews I was shaken to the core. I remember playing hackey-sack and ultimate frisbee with him and Trey like it was yesterday. He certainly meant more to anyone that met him than Anna Nicole Smith ever could. RIP Sgt. Frazier.