Lance Corporal Josh McDaniels, age 21, died in Afghanistan in June of 2011, protecting his fellow Marines, protecting our country, and protecting each one of us.
As a combat engineer, he worked to detect and detonate roadside bombs so that others out on patrol would be safer. Josh put his life on the line every day clearing roads and bridges for his fellow Marines.
Prior to enlisting, Josh was earning $40 per hour, but he wasn’t about the money. He had a calling, he wanted to serve his country and he wanted to help his fellow Marines. Being a combat engineer gave him that opportunity.
As a child, Josh was patriotic and loved to shop at military surplus stores. In high school, he emerged as a leader, lettering in wrestling and becoming a captain of the football team. According to those who knew him, Josh always got the job done and often went beyond what was asked of him. Family members say he found a sense of purpose in the Marines-that he really took to it.
He was described as tough and brave, and always quick to help anyone he could. Josh was also known as a prankster who made everyone laugh. He made his friend “sit at attention” in his old Mercedes while he played The Star-Spangled Banner on the car’s sound system. According to The Columbus Dispatch, 700 people attended the memorial service held for Josh in his home town high school gymnasium.
The Christmas before he deployed, Josh gave his father a set of dog tags. One tag was imprinted with the soldier’s prayer. The other contained the Bible verse Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Certainly these words must have comforted Josh as he confronted the dangers of his job daily.
The morning Josh died he was out working, searching the roadway for bombs. Finding and detonating explosive devices planted by the enemy in Afghanistan is not a job for the faint hearted yet Josh considered it his mission to protect his fellow Marines. Taylor Moody, a fellow Marine from Josh’s unit said, “Josh McDaniels was the hero that day. He died trying to keep us from suffering his fate.” Once a Marine, always a Marine. That includes in this life and the next one. Josh’s family believes he is standing post in Heaven.
Not long after Josh’s death, his younger brother Jacob enlisted in the Marine Corps and is currently stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo.
Josh died doing what he loved for the country he loved, and for his sacrifice he was selected as a Guardian of the Republic in the military category. His family suffered a terrible loss so that we can continue to live with the freedom purchased for us by Josh and so many other Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen. We are forever in their debt.