Joshua Micah Mills
Staff Sergeant, United States Army
U.S. Department of Defense
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 727-09
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died September 16, 2009, in Helmand province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their vehicle September 15, 2009, with an improvised explosive device. They were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Sergeant First Class Bradley S. Bohle, 29, of Glen Burnie, Maryland
Sergeant First Class Shawn P. McCloskey, 33, of Peachtree City, Georgia
Staff Sergeant Joshua M. Mills, 24, of El Paso, Texas.
For more information media may contact the
U.S. Army Special Operations Command public affairs office at (910) 432-6005;
after hours (910) 689-6187, or visit http://news.soc.mil.
EL PASO, Texas -- Before Friday, the song, “When I Get Where I’m Going” by Brad Paisley, was just a song to the Mills family. Now it has special meaning. It was one of Staff Sergeant Joshua Mill’s favorite songs.
"Josh, he was a hero," said Quent Mills.
It is with a heavy heart that Mills spoke to KFOX. He told the crew stories about his brother Joshua who died Wednesday after a roadside bombing in Afghanistan. Two other soldiers also died in the attack.
As the KFOX crew walked into the Mills family home, pictures of Joshua Mills were laid out in the living room along with pictures of his wife, son and other brother Travis who is serving in the Air Force.
The 24 year-old El Paso native followed in his father 's footsteps joining the Army after finishing at Silva Magnet. He went on to wear a Green Beret and family members said he loved being a member of Special Forces.
"He loved his family and he loved his country. He loved the Green Berets," said Mills.
That's his military side, but who was the man behind the uniform? Mills said he’s known to be a jokester and he liked dinosaurs when he was younger.
“He liked to surprise people. He would come into town, you wouldn't know he was coming into town. He would come into town and knock on the door. It would be a holiday and there he was," said Mills.
Mills said this year the joke was on Joshua when they paid him a surprise visit at his post on the 4th of July. They even surprised him with his brother Travis, who is serving in the Air Force.
Mills said Joshua is so much of a family man that he gave his son a middle name of Trevin, a combination of his two brothers who are named Travis and Kevin.
He leaves behind a wife, Meagan, and a 10-month-old son named Malaki, along with his brothers and parents. Meagan Mills is also from El Paso and attended Chapin High School. Quent Mills also works at Chapin High School.
Joshua Mills will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Family members said he loved history and Washington, D.C.
His mother was just about to send him a care
package, Quent Mills said. He said his brother told him not to send chocolate
because it melts and to send him some books. Mills said he was going to
send his brother the book “The Elite Soldier.”
18 September 2009:
EL PASO, Texa - A native of this city who earned the right to wear the U.S. Army's Green Beret died Wednesday after a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Joshua M. Mills, 24, and two other Army Special Forces soldiers died the day after their vehicle was attacked as they patrolled the streets of Ghur Ghuri in the southern province of Helmand, according to Army officials.
"Josh loved his family, he loved his country, and he loved being a Green Beret," said Quent Mills, the soldier's older brother. Quent Mills is the head coach for Chapin High School's varsity softball program. "He loved his job even though he knew it was dangerous."
Quent Mills said that early on, his younger brother had two career choices, one of which was the Army.
"He (also) wanted to be a paleontologist," Quent Mills said. "He loved dinosaurs."
At about age 8, he decided to leave the dinosaurs behind. Joshua Mills graduated from the Silva magnet school where he was a member of the Junior ROTC. He was on the rifle team, Quent Mills said.
"That was his favorite thing about high school -- ROTC," Quent Mills said.
He said his younger brother followed in their father's footsteps. Tommy Mills was an air defense soldier who retired from Fort Bliss.
Family was as important to Joshua Mills as career. Despite the demands of training and deployment, he almost always managed to make it home for Christmas, Quent Mills said. "He would always try to surprise you," Quent Mills said, his voice breaking with emotion. "He'd come into town, but he wouldn't tell you. He would just show up on your doorstep."
The family managed to turn the tables this year when they all went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where Joshua Mills was stationed, to celebrate the Fourth of July. Another brother, a member of the U.S. Air Force, was not expected.
"That was the last time our whole family was together," Quent Mills said. "He was surprised."
Joshua Mills joined the Army in 2005 as a Special Forces candidate, and successfully completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in March of that year. He was a Communications Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He also successfully completed the Basic Airborne Course and the Special Forces Sniper Course. Mills deployed to Afghanistan on July 15, 2009.
Survivors include his wife, Magen, and son, Malaki, of Raeford, North Carolina; and his mother, Celeste, of El Paso.
According to the Army's Special Operations Command Web site, 36 soldiers in the 7th Special Forces Group have died supporting the war in Afghanistan.
Quent Mills said his brother loved the camaraderie of the Special Forces and believed in the mission.
"He didn't talk much about it," Quent Mills said. "They're not supposed to."
As a way of explaining his job, he translated the unit's motto, "De oppresso liber" for his brother.
"It means 'Free the oppressed,' " Quent Mills
EL PASO, Texas - Two weeks short of his first birthday, Malaki Mills extended a tiny hand toward a screen across the room displaying his father's face.
"Do you recognize your daddy?" asked Malaki's uncle, Quent Mills, who held the child. Tears ran down Quent Mills' face.
Malaki's father is Staff Sergeant Joshua Mills, who died in Afghanistan in mid-September, hours after his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.
On Friday, about 750 people filed past a giant American flag suspended from a fire truck's ladder as they entered a Northeast El Paso church to pay their respects. Family and friends who spoke remembered Mills as a mischievous child, a competitive teenager and a dedicated U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who wore the Green Beret.
Photos, flashed on the screen high in a corner of the church, chronicled Mills' life. A little boy next to the pool mugging for the camera. A young man, cheek pressed against the love of his life. Through it all, wearing Dallas Cowboys football jerseys increasing in size as he grew. Then a serious soldier lining up a target on the sights of a sniper rifle.
Those who knew Mills were encouraged to write their memories on cards and deposit them in a container labeled "daddy box." The cards will give Malaki an idea of who his father was through the eyes of people who loved him, said his kindergarten teacher, Karen Foley.
Many of those attending wore Army green. Patches on the uniforms represented every group from Junior ROTC, to Fort Bliss air defenders and armored soldiers, to special forces soldiers.
A best friend remembered youthful play that foreshadowed Mills' adult life.
It started with pretending to "clear" rooms with Nerf guns. The enemy usually was an older brother, and the play resulted in the loss of "a few permanent teeth," he said to muted laughter. Then it progressed to an obsession with paint-ball games.
As a young man, Mills was among 400 soldiers who in 2005 qualified to start the grueling special forces training. He was one of only eight who were awarded the coveted berets. A video shown during the memorial service chronicled his three deployments, one to Guatemala and two to Afghanistan.
Soldiers at the service talked about how Mills taught Guatemalan soldiers to build helicopter landing zones as they fought the drug trade. In Afghanistan, he trained Afghan national police to provide stability and security for their war-torn country. Col. Mark J. Gorton, group deputy commander of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), which included Mills' unit, posthumously presented the soldier's family with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and a Meritorious Service Medal.
"Joshua was a citizen, he was a husband and a friend to so many people here," said Gorton, who is based at Fort Bragg, N.C. "But to us, he was also a soldier and he was a hero."
Mills' survivors include his wife, Magen, and son, Malaki, of Raeford, North Carolina; and his mother, Celeste, and father, Tommy, of El Paso. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on November 3, with full military honors.
"He cherished every moment of his life and he would want me to do the same," Magen Mills said, pausing periodically to control her emotions.
"I will love Joshua and I will never forget
him. I will live each moment as if it were my last."
Green Beret, Marine honored
Casualties of fighting in Afghanistan are laid to rest in Arlington
By Annie Gowen
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Malaki Mills, who turned 1 last week, sat on his mother's knee at Arlington National Cemetery on Tuesday and waved a tiny American flag in the crisp fall air. A little while later, a sober Army soldier gave him a larger flag to keep -- in honor of his father, Joshua M. Mills, an Army Green Beret killed in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Mills, 24, of El Paso, who died in September, was one of two servicemen buried with full military honors Tuesday at Arlington, laid to rest to the mournful sound of taps and the crack of a rifle salute. The other, Lance Corporal David R. Baker, 22, a Marine from Painesville, Ohio, died October 20 in Afghanistan. He was on foot patrol in Helmand province when a bomb exploded nearby, his father said.
Mills, the son of an Army warrant officer, was so anxious to join the military that he dropped out of the University of Texas at El Paso to enlist in 2005, family members said. He was strong, single-minded and a careful student of history, and ultimately he was selected to join the Green Berets, the Army's elite Special Forces branch.
Mills's wife, Magen, 21, said that as a Communications Sergeant with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, her husband had been sent on missions to Guatemala and Afghanistan before he was deployed to Afghanistan again in August. She last heard from him via a text message a few days before he and two other soldiers died Sept. 16, after their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.
She was on her way to see the Dallas Cowboys, his favorite team.
"He said, 'I love you and be safe,' Magen Mills recalled. "It wasn't his voice, but it was him."
She said she first glimpsed her "gorgeous" husband while still a high school student, when he pulled up in his copper-colored Camaro at her high school softball game. When they later started dating, they realized quickly how much they had in common: love of country music, "Friends" reruns and dark chocolate. The couple settled in Raeford, North Carolina, just outside Fort Bragg, shortly after their wedding in 2007.
"He was all about family, he was all about his country, his job and his friends," she said. "I don't know the perfect words. Josh had an affect on people I'm just beginning to see."
Lance Corporal Baker grew up in a small community on the shores of Lake Erie, said his father, Mark Baker, 52, a chemist.
The young man with the fringe of dark hair was so shy and unassuming as a child that he was always in the background in family photos and had to be cajoled into having a birthday party, Mark Baker said. But as early as sixth grade, David Baker was vowing to become a Marine. He enlisted shortly after graduating from Riverside High School in 2006.
He was terribly homesick at boot camp and while stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. But something in him changed after he was deployed in May to Afghanistan as a "mortar man" in the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.
Where once he had been tentative, he now sounded calm and confident, his grandfather, James Baker, recalled this week. But members of his family worried when they learned that he was leading patrols through Helmand province's dangerous terrain.
"I said, 'Why are you always out front?' " Mark Baker recalled. "He flat-out told me, 'Dad, it's my job.' "
David Baker had hoped to be back in the United States by Christmas, and he dreamed of attending college after his tour was up next year. He had told them so when he made a round of calls to his grandparents, friends and other family in late September on a satellite phone.
"He's never done that before," Baker said. "In hindsight, it was almost like he was saying goodbye."
At Baker's service, the U.S. Marine Band played a mournful version of "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" as military officials presented folded flags to Mark Baker and his former wife, Laurie A. Lewkowski. Lewkowski rocked back and forth as she held hers, the last remnant of her dead son.
MILLS, JOSHUA MICAH
Posted: 22 September 2009 Updated: 30 October 2009 Updated: 4 November 2009 Updated: 14 December 2009 Updated: 3 February 2010 Updated: 17 April 2010
Photo Courtesy of Eileen Horan, April 2010
Photos By Eileen Horan, February 2010