Sunday, December 25, 2011

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann

Remember Our Heroes

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann, 27, of Marshfield, Wis.

SSgt Altmann was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; died Dec. 25, 2011 in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire.

SSgt Altmann graduated from Columbus Catholic High School in 2003, where he was on the football and baseball teams.He attended the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. While there, he met with an Army recruiter and learned that his interests would serve him and his country well as a military medic. He joined the Army in 2005 after one year of college.

SSgt Altmann just re-enlisted in October for another four years. He was expected to return home by March. He had previously been deployed to Iraq twice. He deployed to Afghanistan in April.

“This is what he wanted to do. He had just re-enlisted because he loved his job so much,” said father, John Altmann said.

“He was really good at what he did. We’re so proud of him. He was doing what he enjoyed."

“Joe was a quiet man but had a heart of gold. He was always willing to help out in any way he could,” said Aunt Krisann Mauritz, who added that her nephew was content to hang out with her and his uncle in their home.

“He would just show up on our doorstep and lay on our couch and watch movies with us. It’s times like that I wish I could get back,” Mauritz said.

Sam Klumb, friend of Joe’s since kindergarten, said, "He was quiet, but you knew you could count on him for anything. He was a genuine person that cared about other people.”

When they hung out with friends as teenagers, Klumb said, “Things would get quiet, and Joe was always the guy that could make everyone laugh and kept things going.”

“When he found out he liked [the medical field] and he could combine that with being a medic in the military, he found what he loved to do,” Klumb said.
Wife, Nikki, whom he married last February, said they had started talking about kids, a house and a dog once Joe returned from Afghanistan.

"We were planning it all," Nikki said. "We dreamed together and talked about it. He was my everything. It was crazy, because with him being in Hawaii and me in Texas, there was a lot of miles between us."

Nikki said her husband wanted a military burial and to be buried in Marshfield. "If something happens, he said, 'Take me home. I want you to know that I'm not afraid of dying. It's leaving you behind that scares me most,'" Nikki said.

"But I reassured him that I'm stronger than I look and that I pray to God he would come back. I told him to do what he loved, and I'm proud of him for that.""It's hard," she said. "I feel (his parents') pain because they're burying a son. And they feel mine, because I'm burying the man I love."

SSgt Altmann's wards and decorations include:

Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal (3)
Army Achievement Medal
Army Commendation Medal
National Defence Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal with Bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Noncommissioned Officers Professional Development Ribbon
Army Service Ribbon
Overseas Service Ribbon
Combat Action Badge
Combat Medical Badge
Expert Field Medical Badge Combat
Special Skills Badge
Basice Marksmanship Qualification Badge
NATO Medal

Army Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Altmann was killed in action on 12/25/11.

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