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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots
By Army SSgt. Ryan Matson

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Fallen Hero Army Sgt. Joshua D. Powell Remembered
(June 26, 2011)

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Army Sgt. Joshua D. PowellLAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (6/22/2011) – The music from the sound system, Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe," served as a somber reminder of the day's occasion.

“Yes I understand that every life must end; As we sit alone, I know someday we must go...”

The 164th Military Police Company selected the music for the memorial ceremony of Sgt. Joshua D. Powell, a team leader from Tyler, Texas. Powell was one of four military police officers from the 164th Military Police Company, 793rd Military Police Battalion, 3rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade killed when an improvised explosive device detonated June 4 outside the village of Khanda in Laghman province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Sgt. Devin A. Snyder, of Cohockton, N.Y., Sgt. Christopher R. Bell, of Saint Joseph, Mich., and Spc. Spc. Robert L. Voakes, Jr., of Hancock, Mich.

Powell's experience included three years of military service and two deployments, one of which was to Afghanistan where he was wounded and decorated for valor.

“With only one year of dwell time from his last deployment, Sgt. Powell selflessly volunteered at the first opportunity to redeploy and serve alongside his brothers and sisters in arms yet again. Sgt. Powell seamlessly transitioned from the 164th MP Company rear detachment, to our forward deployed, 3rd Platoon in Mehtar Lam. Upon arrival Sgt. Powell immediately took charge as a team leader and quickly established his roots within the platoon – demonstrating his uncanny ability to become an invaluable part of the team in a very short amount of time,” Powell's company commander, U.S. Army Capt. Christopher Gehri, from Anchorage, Alaska, recalled.

The other members of Powell's platoon described him as a person who lived for the excitement of deploying and who always wanted to be outside the wire. His experience and knowledge also made him extremely respected amongst his peers.

“Like most of us here, I only had the honor to know Sgt. Powell for a short amount of time,” U.S. Army Spc. Jacob Blackburn, from Fairbanks, Alaska, a military police officer and one of Powell's soldiers in the 164th, said during the remarks he offered during the ceremony.

“However, in the time I had the opportunity to work for him, I learned more from him than any of my previous leaders. He was a very humble, yet professional NCO. He was extremely knowledgeable of the way things work while we are serving downrange. I would like it to be known that Sgt. Powell's knowledge, advice and stories of his past deployments not only prepared us as soldiers but enlightened us and gave us insight as to what to expect.”

Other soldiers remembered a lighter side of Powell.

“Let me tell you about Sgt. Powell,” Sgt. Jonathan Enlow, a team leader with the 164th from Tahlequah, Okla., said. “He was probably the most country bumpkin/closet genius I ever met. He had a very distinctive drawl, and always walked around with an incessant grin. He had a crazy laugh that always made everyone else laugh.”

“He was goofy, but intelligent. And when it came to a mission there was nothing he couldn't be entrusted with, he was the consummate professional, and I don't know anybody that was more disciplined. Here was this guy who was extremely goofy and liked to have a good time, but everything he did demanded discipline.”

“He loved his job,” Staff Sgt. Vincent Vetterkind, a squad leader with the 164th from Wausau, Wis., added. “He ate, slept and dreamed the Army.”

Powell was born Sept. 8, 1982, in Tyler, Texas, and joined the Army in 2004. He had served with the 984th MP Company, Fort Carson, Colo., and served as a squad leader, team leader and military police patrolman.

His military awards include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Army Commendation with “V” device, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Valorous Unit Award, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Ribbon, North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal and the Combat Action Badge.

He is survived by his wife.

By Army SSgt. Ryan Matson
Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan
Copyright 2011

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