Based: Ft. Bragg, N.C.
1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: May 15, 2007
Hometown: Long Beach
High School: Millikan Senior High (Long Beach)
Burial: Artesia Cemetery, Cerritos
Army Staff Sgt. Josh Whitaker was fiercely protective of the two teenage cousins he considered little sisters. He was scandalized when the girls shopped at Victoria's Secret, and he liked to warn them over the phone from Afghanistan that he'd chase after any boys they dated.
According to the Department of Defense, Whitaker manned a .50-caliber turret gun, killing five militants in a firefight as he provided cover for two vehicles behind him. But he was mortally wounded by a shot to the underarm that struck behind his protective vest. He had saved nine fellow soldiers' lives.
Whitaker was big-hearted but tough; his Army buddies dubbed him "Iron Man," [his girlfriend Star] Boyd said.
He told a close friend, Matt Miller, that his deployment to Afghanistan on his birthday, March 10, was the best present he ever received.
Once, while shooting squirrels in the mountains, Whitaker accidentally blasted himself in a thumb with his BB gun but was too embarrassed to tell anyone, said Miller, who got to know him well in high school.
Fearless, Whitaker would stick up for his buddies in fights.
He and Miller planned to live next door to one another someday and start families as best friends, side by side.
Etched on Miller' bicep is a tattoo identical to Whitaker's: Latin for "Friends for life."
In addition to his mother, uncle, aunt and cousins, Whitaker is survived by his father, Frank Dougherty of El Monte; two great-uncles, Tom and Dick Whitaker; and a great-aunt, Ann Napier.
Go here to read the whole story of Army Staff Sergeant Joshua R. Whitaker in the LA Times.
Find more at Military Times
and visit Sergeant Joshua R. Whtaker's Guest Book.