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Army Sgt. Joshua C. Brennan

Died October 26, 2007 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

22, of Ontario, Ore.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vicenza, Italy; died Oct. 26 in Asadabad, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained Oct. 25 at Korengal Valley, when he came in contact with enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenade, machine-gun and small-arms fire during combat operations. Also killed was Spc. Hugo V. Mendoza.

Oregon soldier killed in Afghanistan

The Associated Press

A soldier who grew up in Ontario, Ore., has been killed in a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan, his father said Oct. 26.

Army Sgt. Josh Brennan, 22, was shot in the chest on patrol in Kunar province, his father, Michael Brennan, of McFarland, Wis., told The Associated Press. He was a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

Taliban fighters tried to drag the soldier’s body off, but a medic hurled six hand grenades at them before he himself was killed, Michael Brennan said.

He said the military notified him of his son’s death Oct. 26.

He said his son told him his unit had seen combat almost every day over the last two months. Josh was shot in the leg in August, recovered, and returned to duty, his father said.

His enlistment was to have ended last month but he had to serve another year under the Army’s stop-loss doctrine, Michael Brennan said.

Josh grew up primarily with his mother in Oregon and graduated from Ontario High School, his father said. He spent the summers with his father in Wisconsin.

Michael Brennan said he and his son’s mother both served with the military police in the Army.

In school Josh ran track, played football and won a good citizenship award, Michael Brennan said.

His father said he asked Josh it he wanted him to try to get congressional intervention to get him out of the extra year.

“He said, ‘No, Dad, I don’t want you do any of that. I’ll serve my time with my friends.’ ”

He said his son won two Bronze Stars for valor.

I’m very proud. I didn’t want him to have to give his life up like this,” Michael Brennan said, his voice quivering.

Ontario soldier remembered as dedicated, dependable young man

The Associated Press

ONTARIO, Ore. — Army Sgt. Joshua Brennan asked his mother last month to mail him a sturdy Bible because he was developing a strong relationship with God.

Brennan and his mother, Janice Gates of Ontario, communicated through Gates’ MySpace page. After Brennan’s platoon sergeant died in Afghanistan several weeks ago, she posted the song “Heaven Was Needing a Hero” to comfort her son.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I know heaven was needing him, too,” Gates said a day after learning her son died in combat.

Brennan, 22, died Oct. 26 from wounds he had suffered the day before in a firefight, according to the Department of Defense. He was serving his second tour in Afghanistan with the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Combat Team.

His father, Michael Brennan of McFarland, Wis., told The Associated Press that after Taliban fighters shot his son in the chest, they tried to drag the wounded soldier away, but a medic threw grenades at them before he himself was killed.

“If it weren’t for that medic, horrific things could have happened to Joshua,” Gates said in an interview with The Oregonian newspaper.

Gates said her son’s enlistment was supposed to end in September, but a stop-loss order extended it a year.

“Josh struggled with that for a little while. He certainly wasn’t resentful of it,” Gates said. “He truly felt that what brought him to Afghanistan was a worthwhile and just cause, that they needed to be there to preserve independence and freedom in the United States and worldwide.”

Brennan, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient, was wounded in the leg in early August.

“Within days of being shot, he was insistent he wanted to be back out with his men,” Gates said. “He wanted to make sure they were OK.”

A 2003 graduate of Ontario High School, Brennan ran the hurdles, played football and hunted elk with his grandfather, uncle and stepfather, Jared Cutler. After the military, Brennan intended to attend college and pursue a career in forensic science or criminology, Gates said.

Brennan returned home on leave in May, and friends and family threw a party and “lavished him with love,” his mother said.

“When I was raising Josh, I wasn’t financially able to do things like pay for his car insurance, pay for a vehicle, pay for a cell phone, these extra amenities kids get these days,” Gates said. Brennan worked a part-time job at a print shop and paid for his own extras while maintaining above-average grades.

“He was just such a responsible young man,” she said. “I know he would have done absolutely amazing things in his life.”

Slain soldier with Oregon ties planned to be a policeman

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. — Sgt. Joshua Brennan was remembered Nov. 6 as a loyal soldier who planned to join his father as a Madison police officer when his tour of duty was complete.

The 22-year-old was shot by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan last month.

Forty Madison police officers served as honor guards for Brennan at funeral services where the Army paratrooper received full military honors. He earlier was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart

Monsignor Michael Burke said Brennan’s second tour of duty in Afghanistan had been extended by a year under the Army’s stop-loss policy.

He said the soldier’s father, Michael Brennan of McFarland, was disappointed but that Josh said he’d rather fight another year and then come back home.

Brennan graduated in 2003 from high school in Ontario, Ore., where he spent part of his time with his mother.

A service also was held Nov. 3 in Fruitland, Idaho, near Ontario.

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