Joel David Clarkson
Sergeant, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 223-10
DOD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sergeant Joel D. Clarkson, 23, of Fairbanks, Alaska, died March 16, 2010, at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, of wounds sustained March 13, 2010, during combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
For more information media may contact the
U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at 910-432-6005,
or visit http://news.soc.mil.
Special Forces Army Ranger Joel David Clarkson, the grandson of longtime Oak Harbor resident Virginia Williams, died from a combat-related injury in Afghanistan this week.
“My world just ended. I have lost my baby,” Joel’s mother Karen Williams-Clarkson posted on her Facebook page about noon Wednesday. He was pronounced dead on March 17, 2010.
Clackson was wounded in Afghanistan Friday, March 12, 2010, when a bullet penetrated his skull. He underwent two surgeries in Afghanistan and was transported to Germany for further care. Doctors pronounced him brain dead Wednesday morning.
Seven of his organs went to save the lives of others.
Joel’s uncle, David Williams of Oak Harbor, described his nephew as an athletic, outgoing young man whose life fell into place after he joined the service and started a family of his own.
“Everything just clicked,” Williams said. “His drive was to be a soldier.”
Joel leaves behind his wife, Cassandra, and 9-month-old son, Orion, of Puyallup; sister Jessica Clarkson of Fairbanks; mother Karen Clarkson-Williams of Fairbanks; uncle David Williams of Oak Harbor; and grandmother Virginia Williams of Oak Harbor.
Services are to be held Saturday, March 27,
2010, in Fort Lewis, Washington, and on April 5, 2010, in Arlington
National Cemetery, where he will be laid to rest. There will also be a
small service in Alaska at a later date.
Sergeant Joel D. Clarkson, a 23-year-old Alaska native, died Wednesday after being injured by small-arms fire during a patrol in Helmand province March 12. Clarkson was a member of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and was on his fifth overseas tour.
He is survived by his wife, Cassandra, and their 9-month-old son, Orion. The couple lived in Puyallup.
Eleven soldiers from 2nd Ranger Battalion have been killed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Clarkson is the first member of the Special Operations battalion to die in combat since June 2008.
The Pentagon has yet to confirm Clarkson’s death, but relatives have confirmed the death on a Facebook page created shortly after he was injured. Alaska Governor Sean Parnell also confirmed the death in a statement late Friday evening.
“Sandy and I are deeply saddened by the loss of Sergeant Clarkson,” Parnell said. “He was a brave soldier who sacrificed his life while defending our freedom. We offer our condolences and prayers for his family and friends during this difficult time.”
Clarkson’s family told the Whidbey News-Times of Oak Harbor that Clarkson was shot in the head March 12. He underwent two surgeries in Afghanistan and later was flown to Germany.
“A bullet entered the front side of his helmet and penetrated his skull during combat,” Clarkson’s uncle, David Williams, told the News-Times. “The shock of it took him out pretty good.”
Clarkson attended Oak Harbor High School for several months during his senior year in 2004, according to the paper.
A memorial service will be March 27 at Lewis-McChord,
and a funeral will be April 5 at Arlington National Cemetery, according
to the Facebook page.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, March 22, 2010) — An Army Ranger died March 16, 2010, from wounds received during combat operations March 13, 2010, in Afghanistan while serving with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
Sergeant Joel David Clarkson, 23, was seriously wounded in a fierce engagement with a heavily armed enemy force in the Farah Province. Treated immediately by unit medical personnel, he was quickly evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility and subsequently transferred to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany where he died March 16, 2010. He was on his fifth deployment in support of the War on Terror with three previous deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.
"Sergeant Clarkson was the epitome of the Ranger Team Leader—he cared deeply for his men, always led from the front, and was at his best when the situation was the most dire," said Colonel Michael E. Kurilla, commander, 75th Ranger Regiment. "He is a hero to our Nation, the Army, and his Family."
The Ranger task force attacked a concentration of determined fighters in the desert of the Farah Province. Though decisively engaged, the Rangers ultimately killed eight enemy fighters, destroyed their base of operations along with weapons and ammunition, and captured a key leader of the terrorist network, according to official military reports.
"Thoughtful, fearless, and engaging, Sergeant Joel Clarkson possessed that intangible stuff we desire most in Ranger – the stuff of which legends are made," said Colonel Mark Odom, commander, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Clarkson enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaaka. He began his Army Ranger career when he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Bn., where he served as a grenadier, Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner and team leader.
Clarkson is survived by his wife, Cassandra
and their son, Orion of Norfolk, Virginia; his parents, Steve and Karen
Clarkson of Fairbanks, Alaska; and his older sister, Jessica.
Sergeant Joel David Clarkson
Killed in action on March 16, 2010
Operation Enduring Freedom
Sergeant Joel David Clarkson, 23, was a team leader assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. He was born on October 8, 1986.
Sergeant Clarkson was seriously wounded during a fierce direct-fire combat engagement against a heavily armed and determined enemy in Farah Province, Afghanistan March 13, 2010. He was treated by unit medics, immediately evacuated to the nearest medical treatment facility and subsequently transferred to Landsthul Regional Hospital, Landsthul, Germany where he died March 16, 2010. He was on his fifth deployment in support of the War on Terror with three previous deployments to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.
Sergeant Clarkson enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Fairbanks, Alaska in February 2006. He completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia, as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Indoctrination Program also at Fort Benning.
Following graduation from the Ranger Indoctrination Program, Sergeant Clarkson was assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in September 2006 where he served as a grenadier, Squad Automatic Weapon gunner and a team leader.
His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Indoctrination Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, and the Warrior Leader Course.
His awards and decorations include the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Ranger Tab, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with combat star, Iraq Campaign Medal with combat star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Sergeant Clarkson was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.
He is survived by his wife Cassandra and their son, Orion of Norfolk, Virginia; his parents, Karen and Steven Clarkson of Fairbanks, Ala., and his older sister, Jessica.
As a Ranger, Sergeant Joel David Clarkson selflessly lived his life for others while he distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier light-infantry unit, consistently deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism, and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and our great nation.
NOTE: Sergeant Clarkson's headstone was corrected in September 2010 to read "Operation Enduring Freedom," as the result of an e-mail received from one of his comrades in the field. The original headstone read "Operation Iraqi Freedom." Thanks to Sergeant Clarkson's buddy and to the Arlington staff.
CLARKSON, JOEL DAVID
Posted: 23 March 2010 Updated: 2 May 2010 Updated: 21 September 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, September 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, May 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, April 2010