Monday, July 23, 2007

Ron J. Joshua Jr. dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Shortly before Pfc. Ron J. Joshua Jr. shipped off for Iraq a few months ago, he drove his pickup from Austin to Donaldsonville, La. to visit family members and assure them that he'd be OK in the war zone, his godmother Warrine Joshua Lightfoot said.

On Tuesday Joshua, 19 of Austin, died in Baghdad after an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle, according to the Department of Defense.

Joshua had been in the country for just over two months, Lightfoot said.

"He wasn't but 19 years old," his grandmother Brenda Lawson said. "He hadn't even begun his life."

During his visit just before he left, Joshua hung out with cousins, visited Lawson and Lightfoot and ate boiled crawfish, one of his favorite dishes.

Lightfoot said some in his family were against him going to Iraq because they were afraid he wouldn't come back. But Joshua tried to put them at ease.

"He kept saying, 'everything will be alright,' " she said.

Lightfoot said Joshua, who had two sisters, grew up with parents in the military. His father, Ron Joshua Sr., is a master sergeant who also served in the current war in Iraq, and his mother, Ursula Joshua, formerly served in the Army, Lightfoot said.

Joshua was born in Germany and spent much of his life moving around with his parents, Lightfoot said.

He was a quiet child growing up, playing football in high school and always minding his manners around adults, Lightfoot said.

"He was a jewel," Lightfoot said. "It was always 'yes, ma'am' and 'no, ma'am.' "

Lightfoot said Joshua would frequently say he wasn't planning to join the Army like his parents. But he signed up for the Army as soon as he graduated from Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville in 2006, relatives said.

She said he never explained why he went into the military.

"My grandson should have never went to Iraq that young," Lawson said. "But, that's what he wanted to do, go for his country."

Lightfoot said she spoke with her godson over the phone a few weeks ago and he sounded happy.

She also said he sounded different on the phone: a little more like a man.

And again, he tried to put her at ease.

" 'Don't worry, everything's going to be alright,' " she recalls him saying. "That's what he would always say.

"He was a child that once you met him, you'd never forget him."

Joshua was assigned to the 401st Military Police Company, 92nd Military Police Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade in Fort Hood, according to the Department of Defense.

From the Austin American Statesman