East Texas Soldiers honored for their sacrifices

SFASU gears up for the Big Dance

(KYTX) - Dozens of people crowded a Wood County Courthouse to honor the memory of Army Sgt. Joshua Powell.

When asked to describe their son, Joshua, Gerald and Brenda Powell sum it up easily, in one word.

"Josh is Army. He's always wanted to be."

So it wasn't surprising that Josh joined the Army as soon as he turned 18.

"When he turned 18 it was when Iraq was first getting started and he was kind of worried about it but I told him, 'Joshua that's been your dream. You've got to follow your dream.' So he went," Gerald says.

Iraq was only one of many tours. In Sgt. Powell's eight years in the Army, he also served in Kosovo, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

His family laughs as they remember phone calls about hot weather and big spiders.

"He'd tell us about the big bugs!" his mother, Brenda, said.

However, letting their son live his dream wasn't always easy.

"He was injured twice in Iraq, but he still kept going," his parents say. "He volunteered for this last tour. His hand was always the first raised."

Powell received two purple hearts for those injuries in Iraq. His third purple medal was presented Tuesday, for his third and ultimate sacrifice.

"It means a lot," Brenda says.

On June 4, 2011 an IED exploded in Afghanistan, killing Josh and several of his crew members. He was 28 years old.

"We haven't forgotten, and we will never forget," said U.S. Congressman Jeb Hensarling as he presented 11 medals to Josh's family, including that Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.

"Your child has sacrificed for my children," Hensarling said.

As her son's accomplishments were read aloud, Brenda clasped an American flag - a symbol of what her son loved more than anything in the world, and gave his life to protect.

Joshua's family says if it weren't for the support of theIR town they would never be getting through this so they're thankful for all the people who showed up today.

Sgt. Joshua Powell grew up in Quitman, and went to Quitman High School.  He leaves behind a wife, who now lives in Corpus Christi.

Hensarling and State Representative Bryan Hughes helped honor three other East Texas veterans Tuesday as well.

Mr. Archie Thomas from Palestine received the Prisoner of War Medal. He served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. during WWII, and spent 13 months as a POW in Austria.

Army Veteran Jerry Howard, also from Palestine, was wounded in Vietnam in 1968. 
today he received six medals including the silver star and purple heart.

The family of Corsicana native Adam Fotenot also received a number of medals and ribbons.
He served as a U.S. Army Wagoneer during WWI.


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