CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- It was a dark day for the soldiers of the Able and Headquarters Companies of the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, as they took time to say their good-byes to a fallen comrade.
A memorial was held at Main Side Chapel here Sept. 4 to remember Army Staff Sgt. Joshua R. Hanson, a fire team leader with Able Company, 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment, an Army National Guard unit out of Detroit Lakes, Minn. The battalion is attached to 1st Marine Logistics Group here.
The Dent, Minn., native lost his life August 22 from wounds sustained while engaging in operations in the restive Al Anbar province.
"Josh wasn't just my roommate, he was one of my closest friends," said Army Staff Sgt. Douglas A. Newman, a 24-year-old fire team leader with Able Company. "I am fortunate to say that he was my battle buddy."
Hanson was remembered by soldiers as a man who always had a positive attitude and a smile on his face.
"Hanson was a great person and a great leader," said Army Capt. Adam A. Gilbertson, 29, company commander of Able Company. "He always had an up-beat and positive attitude."
"Josh is the kind of person that could make a joke out of the most awkward and serious situations," said Newman, a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native. "I didn't really know anyone that didn't instantly like him; he made everyone laugh."
The memorial consisted of the playing of our national anthem, prayer; a scripture read by Justin D. Knopf, a 24-year-old squad leader from Detroit Lakes, a photo slide show, a 21- shot rifle salute and the playing of "Taps". An inverted M-16A2 rifle was placed in Hanson's homage, with a Kevlar helmet resting on top. Engraved identification tags and a crucifix hung from the rifle's pistol grip. Immediately in front, an empty pair of boots was positioned, while behind the display, the national ensign and battalion colors were displayed. Along the sides were two ammunition cans containing keepsakes from fellow soldiers.
"Many people say they meet their true friends in high school or college, I met one of my truest friends in the military," said Army Staff Sergeant Andrew J. Riewer, a squad leader with Able Company and a Frazee, Minn., native. "I told my squad after Josh's death, I hope they could have a friend, like I had Josh, in their military career."
The chapel filled with tears when a photo slide show, featuring pictures of the moments that Hanson had spent with the unit was displayed before the last roll call and a 21-shot rifle salute.
The sound of "Taps" from trumpet player and Askov, Minn., native Maj. Randy L. Wendt, 47, chaplain of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Regiment, echoed through the room as the memories of Hanson were still on the front of the soldiers' minds.
Soldiers from Able and Headquarters Companies, one at a time, walked in front of the memorial and rendered a final slow hand salute to their fallen brother as a gesture of honor.
"Staff Sgt. Joshua Hanson, you are, and will always be, a hero to me and the soldiers of Able Company," said Gilbertson, a Moorhead, Minn., native.
Hanson graduated with a degree in law enforcement from Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Minn. He planned to become an Otter Tail County Sheriff.
Hanson was posthumously promoted to staff sergeant, and was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, and the Army Achievement Medal.