Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joshua H. Reeves dies 'of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle'

Joshua Jackson Reeves, four days old, slept undisturbed Monday afternoon in his mother's arms, blissfully unaware of war, or a city called Baghdad, or his mother's shattered heart.

Leslie Reeves, gently traced her baby's chin, a miniature version of another's chin, and smiled through wet eyes.

On Friday, Mrs. Reeves delivered her seven-pound, 14-ounce boy into this world without complications. Soon afterward she phoned Iraq to deliver the happy news. There, Spc. Joshua Reeves, her soldier-husband of two years, was stationed with troops from Fort Riley, Kan.

He was due to come home in November for two weeks of vacation from war.

One day's joy turned to sorrow on Saturday as a bomb detonated as Joshua Reeves' Humvee drove down a Baghdad street. Leslie Reeves was still in the hospital with her new baby when she learned she was a widow.

Meanwhile, in Watkinsville, Ga., about 60 miles east of Atlanta, James and Jean Reeves also learned Saturday they had lost the oldest of their five children.

"It hurts so terribly. You just can't know how bad it hurts," said James, an eighth-grade teacher.

Three years ago when their son told them he was going to join the Army, the Reeveses were not surprised.

"He wanted to fly helicopters, that was his dream," said James. "He went to an aviation school after high school but he decided that joining the Army would get him to that point quicker."

He would likely have gotten there, too.

"He was always determined, in everything," James added.

"He was such a good-hearted person. Everybody loved him," Jean said.

Jean talked to her son last week by phone. Sometimes, she said, he confided to her that he sometimes had trouble sleeping and worried about roadside bombs, the ubiquitous weapons of this war.

"But even so, he was real committed. He had just re-enlisted for six years. He supported his country. He supported the Army. He supported his President. He cared about the Iraqi people," Jean said.

The couple was in Hendersonville Monday, where James nodded to the screen of a laptop computer.

"Let me show you this," he said.

His fingers clicked the keys, opening files until he found the photo he searched for. Another click magnified the image. Joshua sat cross-legged on the floor of an Iraqi house, a guest for a Ramadan meal. He looked at the camera with a quizzical smile as he held something to eat in his fingers. The specialist appeared to be at ease, among trusted companions.

"Isn't that just absolutely the greatest shot?" James said, chin on his neck, tears flowing unchecked, shoulders bobbing from the sobs.

"We got this last Wednesday."

Now the photo becomes his son's parting image.

In the next room, Leslie Reeves held her sleeping son close.

"He got to hear him cry over the phone and said 'Hi' to him," the new mother recalled.

A short time after the birth, the specialist, 26, also received photos of his son via the Internet.

His boy.

"I just wanted him to have seen his son," the mother said.

"That was comforting to me."

From USA Today