Monday, January 17, 2011

Marine Cpl. Joseph C. Whitehead

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Joseph C. Whitehead, 22, of Axis, Ala.

Cpl. Whitehead was assigned to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 17, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

Melanie Miller said her son is a hero. "I am very proud. I want everyone one to know, the world to know he was only 22-years-old," said Melanie Miller.

The young Marine's family said he had only been in the battle torn country for five weeks when he was killed. Whitehead's family said he had a big personality and an even bigger heart.

They said he died doing what he loved and knew the sacrifice it would take. "He wanted to serve his country and he went to Afghanistan even though he knew the consequences. He wanted to become a man and he did," said Miller.

Photos of a bright eyed high school graduate adorn the family coffee table. Whitehead's mother, sister, brother and aunt shared stories about him. Stories such as the time he took his niece mud riding or the time he paid his mother's electric bill.

Before deploying to Afghanistan, Cpl. Whitehead served his country in Kuwait and Haiti.

Whitehead was born and raised in Mobile. His uncle, Chris Bassenger, tells News 5 that Whitehead enlisted in the Marines after graduating from Satsuma High School in 2007. He was about to finish up his first stretch and planned to re-enlist in August. Bassenger says it's something Whitehead wanted to do since the 9/11 attacks.

Whitehead turned 22 years old on Wednesday, less than a week prior to his death.

Coach Jeff Kelly, who coached Whitehead while he was a student at Satsuma, says Whitehead was proud to wear his #62 football jersey. Everyone remembers his smile. "He always had a smile on his face, a fun-loving guy. He worked hard in everything, whether it was in the weight room, or between classes. He always had that smile on his face."

Kelly says Whitehead was the kind of student that other students gravitated toward, and the kind of player who could put in countless hours on the field. "I could see he would be a great military guy. He was a mentally tough guy, that he would be a great soldier."

Kelly says the entire community is saddened by his death. "Joseph is a young man who touched many lives in his short time and displayed the courage to look those things in the eye and defend his country, and that is something that we need to be forever grateful."

Whitehead "was doing a sweep for the infantry in the field" when "he set off an IED," an improvised explosive device, said his brother, Destin Goodhue.

"He was a young man that would never back down from hard work," said Kelly. "He was a hard worker and had a certain playfulness about his personality that made folks want to be around him. He was a joy to coach."

Goodhue called his older brother a hero. "He was my hero, my idol. He just paid the ultimate sacrifice," Goodhue said. "I just want everybody to know he was my hero."

Whitehead joined the Marines after graduating from Satsuma High School in 2007, family members said. "He had been in Afghanistan for five weeks," Goodhue said.

"He was the kind of person you would like to know, the best person you could ever possibly imagine to meet," Goodhue said. "Anytime I needed him, he would be there. He never denied me anything in my life. It's a sad loss."

Goodhue said family members have been told that Whitehead's body will arrive in Mobile in about four to seven days.

-Joe-Man i love you so much, you was, are, and will always be my brother. you have been my best friens scince the day i was born. we are exactly alike in so many ways dude. im crying over you everyday because i miss you bro, but you know i guess im just being selfish, because i know that you are looking down on me right now, i know that you are sitting beside me right now as i am typing this. you are my hero. you really are. you put your life out on the line for me and this country. if i grow up to be half the man that you are, im in good shape. we had so many good times together, you were the crazyest, funnyest, goofyest, funest, and most of all the bravest MAN i have ever met. you always told me that i am your brother, and its deffenetly true man. i know your going to be watching over me for the rest of my life man. I LOVE YOU BROTHER! Roll Tide! [1-12-89/ 1-17-11] In loving memory of a hero to us all, my best friend, cpl Joseph Charles Whitehead…Your brother…-Alex-

First thing I have to say is THE WORLD IS SUFFERING A TRAGIC LOSS, WHILE HEAVEN IS RECEIVING A WONDERFUL BLESSING. Joe is an awesome man, son, brother, nephew, grandson,cousin, friend, marine. The day he was born, my world changed forever. He made me smile everytime he walked into a room. The most important thing to Joe is his family, and their happiness. He had the biggest heart and he would do anything for anyone. He was compassionate. He was so funny, even when he drove u crazy, you were laughing. Really, their are no words that can express what a wonderful person he is. He brought so much joy into my life. Me and Joe shared a bond that I will cherish forever. I am so glad to have had the priveldge of having Joe as my nephew. He made the world a better place to be. Joe, I love you and I miss you so much. I will think of you and miss you everyday of my life. When I close my eyes I can feel you hug me, kiss me on my cheek and I can hear you say “I love you Aunt Susie” like you did everytime I saw you. I know you are happy and smiling now and you are making everyone up there roll with laughter just like you did us. I will never forget changing your diaper, feeding u a bottle, helping u walk, t how you beat someone up for me and how no one could say anything bad about me, watching you sing kareoke with Uncle Cris and seeing you and Savanna asleep on the couch together, and you and Alex doing pranks together. I will hold on to all the memories we shared for 22 years so tight. I will cherish every moment that we had with you. I miss you so very much. Rest in Peace and continue to do what you did so well, make people laugh, make them roll with laughter just like you did for us on earth. I know you are watching over us now, and we will see you again when God calls us up to be with you. Until then, my heart will always have a missing piece. We love you, Forever, my Joe-Joe. Love, Aunt Susie, Uncle Cris, Alex and Savanna

Marine Cpl. Joseph C. Whitehead was killed in action on 1/17/11.

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