Joseph John Anzack, Jr.
Corporal, United States Army
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 591-07
May 15, 2007
DoD Announces Army Soldiers as Whereabouts Unknown
The Department of Defense announced today the identities of four soldiers listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown (DUSTWUN) while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have been unaccounted for since May 12, 2007, in Al Taqa, Iraq, when their patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives. They are assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, New York.
Reported as DUSTWUN are:
Sergeant Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nevada
Search and recovery efforts are ongoing, and the incident is under investigation.
For more information in regard to this release
the media can contact the Coalition Press Information Center-Baghdad at
(703) 270-0299 or (703) 270-0320.
DoD Announces Change-In-Status of Army Soldier
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom who was previously listed as Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown.
Private First Class Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, California, was captured May 12 by enemy forces in Al Taqa, Iraq, when his unit was attacked by insurgents using automatic fire and explosives.
His body was recently recovered in Iraq. The circumstances surrounding his capture and death remain under investigation.
Anzack was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st
Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Fort
Drum, New York. For more information in regard to this release the media
can contact the Fort Drum public affairs office at (315) 772-8286.
WASHINGTON, May 25, 2007 – A body found in Iraq May 23, 2007, is that of one of three U.S. soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division’s 31st Infantry Regiment believed to have been abducted during a May 12, 2007, ambush, Defense Department officials confirmed late yesterday.
Iraqi police found the body of Army Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, a native of Torrance, California, in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad and turned it over to American officials for identification.
A massive search continues for Specialist Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Private. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan, the other missing soldiers.
Though it was widely reported in the media, the Defense Department held off on officially confirming Anzack’s death out of consideration for his family.
Privacy considerations of families during very difficult times are at the heart of the Defense Department policy on identifying military casualties, officials said yesterday.
The policy on public identification of military casualties is governed by Public Law 108-136, Section 546 -- a part of the 2004 National Defense Authorization Act.
Under the law, defense officials may release no casualty information to the media or general public until 24 hours after next-of-kin notification. This covers active-duty or reserve-component personnel killed, injured or missing in action or otherwise considered a casualty.
The 24-hour clock begins again any time there is a change in duty status, officials said. For example, when a servicemember is listed as “duty status whereabouts unknown,” as Anzack was after the May 12, 2007, attack, the servicemember’s family would be notified, and then the 24-hour clock begins for public release of the information.
If the servicemember’s remains are found and identified, then the family is again notified and the 24-hour clock begins again from the time of notification.
The policy is to “respect and to provide for the privacy of the families in the immediate aftermath of notification of the recovery and identification of a servicemember who has been unaccounted for or missing,” according to the policy letter signed by David S.C. Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.
23 May 2007:
More than 10 days into a massive search for three missing American soldiers that has held the attention of a hopeful nation, the Torrance family of Private First Class Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, learned the worst Wednesday.
Late in the afternoon, Army representatives notified the infantryman’s father, Joseph Anzack Sr., that his son was the dead soldier found earlier in the Euphrates River.
He had been “visually identified by the commander of his unit,” Anzack Sr. told the Daily Breeze. “The mourning started right then.
Speaking by phone Wednesday night, Anzack Sr. said his immediate family and several extended family members held a vigil inside his apartment — a second-story stucco building with a yellow ribbon on the front door — that was led by an Army chaplain.
“We said a prayer for the other two boys, then sat around and talked about Joseph,” he said, “just sharing the love of my son and why we all loved him.”
“I’m not really sure where I’m going to go from here,” Anzack Sr. told the Breeze. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do tomorrow. But I have to keep living. I have to keep my family strong. “His sister, she can’t believe it. His mom, she’s doing OK,” he added. “We lost our son. It’s not fair.”
A former prep football standout who graduated from Torrance’s South High in 2005, Anzack Jr. was on his first tour of duty in Iraq, where he served as a gunner with the Army’s noted 10th Mountain Division. He and two fellow soldiers went missing after their patrol was ambushed south of Baghdad on May 12, leaving four soldiers and an Iraqi aide dead.
Al-Qaida later claimed credit for the attack and the abductions of Anzack Jr., Spc. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich.
Their families and America watched as military forces launched an intensive, exhaustive search involving thousands of troops that spanned desert, farmland and irrigation ditches. News broke early Wednesday that a body in an American uniform had been pulled from the Euphrates River.
When word surfaced that the body bore a tattoo, the Anzacks continued to hold out hope, Anzack Sr. said. Last time he saw his son, he had no tattoos.
“I was really thinking, ‘That’s a different person,’” he said. “Somebody said that God takes you away from the bad stuff. And evidently he took Joe. He didn’t want him going through any more bad stuff.”
The tragic news came exactly one month after a false rumor of Anzack Jr.’s death circulated so widely, via MySpace and word-of-mouth, that his alma mater South High changed its marquee to read: “In Loving Memory - Joseph Anzack - 2005.”
But after American Red Cross workers located him alive and well, the soldier himself dispelled the rumor with a phone call home, relieving family and friends across Torrance.
After the rumor turned out to be just careless gossip, word of Anzack’s real disappearance in mid-May brought the toll of the war in Iraq home to students at South High, according to athletic director Robert Kutsch.
“It’s really opened up a lot of kids’ eyes,” Kutsch said. “It’s somebody who walked the same hallways as them and is gone.”
Denise Mandel’s son, Mike, a 12th-grader this year, played middle linebacker with Anzack two years ago and told the Daily Breeze in April he was a “great mentor.”
After hearing the news Wednesday, Denise said the family was heartbroken.
“This young man had nothing but class,” Mandel said. “He was a wonderful leader on the field, just as he was in life.”
Chris Lee graduated two years ahead of Anzack and the two played together on South High’s varsity football team. Anzack, who played on the defensive line, made the team as a 10th-grader. His enthusiasm made an impression on Lee right away.
“He was so excited to get out there, he forgot his assignment,” Lee said.
Anzack Sr. said his son approached his military duty in much the same fashion, describing Joseph Jr. as “a man who made his own choices, stuck by his choices and gave 100 percent.”
“I was honored to have him serve this country,” he said. “I know he went over there and made a difference.”
“I’m so grateful to have had the relationship
that I had with my son. It was an honor to be his father.”
Hundreds gathered Thursday to pay respect to Army Corporal Joseph Anzack Jr., a 20-year-old soldier found dead last week after an ambush in Iraq.
Family and friends visited his flag-draped casket at a mortuary filled with his medals, high school athletic awards and other mementos, as a slideshow of childhood photos played in the background.
A horse-drawn carriage was scheduled to escort his casket through city streets Friday from the mortuary to his high school for a public remembrance and 21-gun salute.
Anzack, a private first class who was promoted to corporal after his death, was to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Army gunner vanished with two other soldiers
May 12 when their combat team was ambushed about 20 miles outside of Baghdad.
The attack, subsequently claimed by al-Qaida, killed four other Americans
and an Iraqi. Two soldiers remain missing.
A horse-drawn carriage carrying the body of an abducted US soldier found dead in Iraq last week has arrived at the Torrance football field of his former high school for a memorial service.
Traffic stopped and residents stood on sidewalks as a white horse pulled the carriage with the flag-draped casket bearing the remains of Army Corporal Joe Anzack through his hometown.
Family, friends and former classmates will be paying respects at the football stadium at South High School, where he graduated two years ago.
Anzack vanished with two other soldiers May 12th when their combat team was ambushed about 20 miles outside Baghdad. Four other Americans and an Iraqi were killed. Two soldiers remain missing.
Anzack will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
6 June 2007:
Corporal Joseph Anzack Jr. of Torrance was buried this morning at a full-honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. Family and military attended the somber service held in a section of the cemetery reserved for casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan.
After a week of public memorials in his hometown of Torrance, Corporal Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, was buried this morning in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C.
All but family and military were kept at a distance during the full-honors funeral, a somber graveside service in Section 60, an area on the south side of Arlington reserved for casualties of the Iraq War and the conflict in Afghanistan.
Throughout the short ceremony, Army honor guards held an American flag taut over Anzack’s casket. After they folded it with precision, the flag was presented to Anzack's mother, Theresa, by Major General Michael Oates, commanding officer of the 10th Mountain Division in which her son served.
He clenched her hand tightly and whispered his condolences before offering a second flag to Anzack's father, Joseph.
Both parents and sister Casey, 16, gently leaned one final time over the casket, which was later lowered into the ground with only family looking on.
Corporal Anzack was found dead in Iraq on May 23, 2007, days after his patrol was ambushed south of Baghdad. He was posthumously promoted from the rank of Private First Class and was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and several medals of commendation.
Soldier laid to rest at Arlington
6 June 2007
The final good-bye was hushed, intimate.
Father knelt to the ground, left arm cradling a precisely folded American flag, forehead following right hand to touch the well-shined casket. Then mother and sister were beside him, hands locked together as they bent over to kiss the wood one last time. Only the song of a distant bird and the rustling of wind through the branches of a nearby maple tree were audible.
After a week of public memorials in his hometown of Torrance, Corporal Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, was buried Wednesday in a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C. All but family and military were kept at a distance during the somber graveside service, a full-honors funeral with a formal procession, Army honor guards, a 21-gun salute and a bugler playing "Taps."
An American flag held taut by soldiers throughout the ceremony was at the end presented by Major General Michael Oates, commanding officer of the 10th Mountain Division in which Anzack served, to mother Theresa Anzack. The two clenched hands tightly as Oates whispered his condolences before offering a second flag to father Joseph Anzack Sr.
"I'm honored that my son is buried here," Anzack Sr. said later, both flags, now in triangular wooden cases, and his son's many medals - the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and more - laid out before him on a hotel room's dining table."I believe he earned it big time, above and beyond the call of duty, the works."
On May 23, the body of gunner Private First Class Anzack was found floating in the Euphrates River south of Baghdad with bullet wounds to his head and chest. He had been missing 11 days, since his patrol was ambushed on May 12 leaving four soldiers dead, Anzack and two others unaccounted for.
An al-Qaida-affiliated group claimed responsibility for the attack and the abductions. A search is ongoing for Private Byron Fouty and Specialist Alex Jimenez.
Anzack, who received a posthumous promotion to the rank of Corporal, came home to Torrance last week, his body met by his family, military and area law enforcement in a solemn hero's welcome at Los Angeles International Airport. A private family memorial was followed the next two days by an all-day public visitation at a local mortuary and a massive tribute at his alma mater, South High School.
"I feel good that he's finally in the ground. I feel good that he's where he's supposed to be," Anzack Sr. said Wednesday afternoon after his son's burial, expressing "gratitude and honor" for the community's support - and relief that the time has come to grieve privately.
"I'm just happy he's in such a beautiful place," a visibly weary Theresa added, a replica of Joe Jr.'s dogtag around her neck. "When I rode in there, there was a sense, a smell in the air, the sun was shining, it was serene."
And so begins a new journey for the Anzacks, an unknown venture into life without their son. They'll spend a week here in D.C. They'll return to their jobs. Sister Casey will go back to school. But beyond that, they say, lays a question mark.
"I don't know what's gonna happen," Joseph
Sr. said. "It's like I said - just one foot in front of the other."
Ambushed Soldier's Journey Ends at Arlington Cemetery
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Corporal Joseph John Anzack Jr., one of three soldiers abducted in Iraq during an ambush that took the lives of four U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter last month, was buried yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery.
Anzack, 20, of Torrance, California, was found floating in the Euphrates River 11 days after the ambush in Al Taqa, several miles from the ambush site.
The attack marked the second time in recent months that Anzack's family feared the worst for him, following a previous scare when a rumor circulated that he had been killed in Iraq. Some friends even posted a sign outside Anzack's high school that read: "In Loving Memory -- Joe Anzack -- Class of 2005," according to the Los Angeles Times. The paper said Anzack dispelled the rumor by calling home.
His family wasn't so fortunate this time.
"They told us, 'We're sorry to inform you the body we found has been identified as Joe,' " Debbie Anzack, his aunt, told the Associated Press. "I'm in disbelief."
After being notified that Anzack's body had been found, the family held a prayer service with an Army chaplain.
"We said a prayer for the other two boys, then sat around and talked about Joseph," Joseph Anzack Sr. told his hometown paper, the Daily Breeze.
He told the paper that the family would honor Anzack's wishes to be buried at Arlington.
"Whatever his wishes were, that's what we'll do," he said. "If he asked for Arlington, he's there. I think that's an option for us, and it's an honor being there."
Yesterday, two weeks after Anzack's body was discovered, more than 30 mourners gathered at Arlington to pay their respects to the soldier. They stood, holding onto one another, rubbing each other's backs for comfort, as a seven-member rifle party fired three-shot volleys in salute. His parents received folded American flags, after which Anzack's mother, Theresa, buried her face in another woman's shoulder.
At the end of the service, his parents took turns walking up to the coffin, leaning in closely to share a private moment with their son. His father knelt with his head bowed and rested his hand on the coffin for a long moment before his mother followed suit.
Last Friday, hundreds of mourners filled South High School in Torrance for a memorial for Anzack. He was described by friends as a fun guy who could also be a comfort when you needed him, according to the Associated Press. He played nose guard for South's varsity football team, according to the Daily Breeze.
"If I was in the Army, I'd want Joe Anzack next to me," Josh Waybright, coach of the football team, told the Daily News in Los Angeles. "He put others before himself. That was probably one of his greatest attributes. I don't think you get a better teammate than Joe Anzack."
Anzack was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, New York. He was the 343rd military member killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.
U.S. and Iraqi troops continue to search for
the other missing soldiers, Specialist Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence,
Massachusetts, and Private Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Michigan.
Weathering a year of loss
By Shelly Leachman, Staff Writer
Courtesy of the Daily Breeze
24 May 2008
The whole family is gathered around a table, a stack of still-boxed, piping-hot pizzas in the center. Though one chair sits conspicuously empty, it's been proposed that everyone begin eating anyway.
"So my mom is saying, `Let's eat,' but I'm going, `Hey, the guy's coming back from Iraq, I think he's allowed to be a little late,"' Joseph Anzack Sr. recalled of a dream he had recently. "The weird thing was, in my dream, I didn't know he was gone."
It's been a year since Anzack's son, Torrance-born Army Joseph Anzack Jr., 20, died in Iraq, his body found floating in the Euphrates River on May 23, 2007.
The sad discovery had come nearly two weeks after the senior Anzack and his former wife, Theresa Anzack, learned on Mother's Day that their son and two fellow soldiers had been abducted in an ambush on their unit that left five others dead.
The trio's disappearance, for which an al-Qaida-affiliated group took responsibility, made national headlines.
When Anzack's body was identified 12 days later, his family was besieged by media from across the country.
Joseph Sr., Theresa and their teenage daughter, Casey, were unwillingly thrust into the spotlight - onto a stage no family ever aspires to - as Joseph Jr., a South High graduate, was memorialized and honored on both coasts: Services in Torrance that brought out what seemed like the whole city, and at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., where the family was recognized by strangers off the street.
Also, an inscription ceremony at the local Veterans Memorial and induction honors at the Sportswalk to the Waterfront in San Pedro.
For months coping publicly with an intensely
personal tragedy, it wasn't until the attention waned that the Anzacks'
grieving began in full.
"We got through all the holidays and the birthdays and just days, you know? I don't know how, but maybe I don't need to understand how we get through it," she said, evoking her ever-present faith as the only explanation she needs.
A silver heart dangles from a link bracelet on Theresa's left wrist. Engraved with her son's name, "Joseph J. Anzack Jr.," it's one of the few simple reminders she keeps close.
His picture hangs on a wall at work and one at home, too. The oak-encased flag that once draped his coffin is also in view at the apartment she moved into last fall.
"I didn't want a shrine. I wanted to keep it simple," she said. "I spend a lot of time talking to him. That's when I do my crying and tell him how much I love him. As long as he knows. And he knows."
A father's reminders
Joseph Sr.'s entire home is a testament to his son's military service.
Flags hang from the rain gutter and in the window. Pictures of Joseph Jr. sit all about the house. A glass-doored, wood cabinet in the kitchen is mostly filled with his effects - medals he earned, sunglasses he wore.
The younger Anzack's things have arrived home in waves - first the footlockers he had in Iraq and later, the duffel bags he'd left stowed at his New York base, Fort Drum. From Army-issue towels and T-shirts to a camera and a laptop computer, his dad wants to save everything.
"I just want to honor my son for as long as I can," Joseph Sr. said. "It's surreal. It's a trip. He's gone and I can't fix that, so I just want to do what I can to honor him."
Fellow soldiers' stories
Corporal Anzack's unit - the noted, much-deployed 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division - returned from Iraq to Fort Drum in November, arriving to a grand and emotional welcome-home ceremony.
Joseph Sr. and his longtime girlfriend, DeeDee Madrid, were among those there to greet them.
Promising "a shirt for a story," the pair offered a T-shirt bearing the names of the unit's fallen and missing to every soldier who had a memory to share about Joseph Jr.
A couple of guys had tales about Joseph Jr.'s pack-rat ways, his habit of collecting and saving almost everything he came across.
They heard about "Anzack Stew," the soldier's special melange of freeze-dried military food and mystery ingredients that somehow managed to make MREs, or meals-ready- to-eat, taste good.
Several men recalled Joseph Jr.'s friendship and generosity with the locals in Iraq.
Sister Casey knows that last story well. It's documented on a video - one of hundreds her brother had stored on a laptop and that provide her comfort on bad days.
It's a short clip of Joseph Jr. handing out bottled water to Iraqi children.
"I watch that over and over and over," Casey said recently. "It makes me so proud and happy. That's Joe."
Possessing the same one-day-at-a-time attitude as her parents, Casey mostly gets by on her memories.
When it gets too much, she'll write to him on his still-standing MySpace Web page, logging on just to say she misses him, or to ask him, "Watch over us."
Comfort from above
The huge collage above her bed helps, too. Poster-size, it's plastered with pictures of her brother - an array of images from their lives together and apart.
"Every morning when I wake up I see his face. That makes me happy," she said. "When friends come over and say, `Who's that?' I say, "That's my brother who died. He died a hero.'
"I get to tell people that," she added, "and that makes me feel good."
Casey is 17 now. Her hair is lighter these days, dyed a few shades south of platinum, though a smattering of just-visible darker strands still remain. Her eyes are a pale blue, same as her brother's.
Though in many ways a typical teenager - she's studying for the SAT and researching colleges, hitting the beach when she can and enduring the foibles of dating - an adult aura emanates from her youthful exterior.
It's perhaps the inevitable result of a brutal year that she said has passed by fast, but at the same time has felt painfully long.
She was still grappling with the loss of her big brother when her grandmother, Betty Anzack, died in April.
"Her funeral was at the same mortuary where they took Joe," Casey said. "I'm still grieving for him that was almost too much for me."
Almost, but not quite. Nothing is too much for them anymore.
If Casey, Joseph Sr. and Theresa share just one sensibility, it's the revised life perspective they separately each professed to have.
Searching for, as Casey put it recently, "good to get from the bad," they've all been reminded this year what truly matters.
"There are so many people that get so upset about little things - that they're too short, or too fat, or whatever," Casey said. "Come on. My brother died. Once you go through something like that, there's really nothing else you can't handle."
"I have a different outlook on things now," Theresa said. "After that, there are no big deals anymore. Everybody has a story, everybody has pain. I think I've gained more compassion and patience through this."
"I miss him a lot and there's no fixing that.
And I understand that he's not gonna come back," Joseph Sr. asserted. "But
that dream I had it just made me realize, my family, my son people are
Photo Courtesy of Holly, August 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, July 2007
Photo Courtesy of Holly, June 2007