Not long ago we re-read some of the reports from that day. We read about Joe’s bravery. About how he was a
trusted team leader. But we also read how regardless of still taking small arms fire, other soldiers from his unit
along with special forces formed a perimeter around Joe to protect him, at the risk of their own lives. We read
how even after he was covered with a blanket and the stretcher and placed in a truck, he was never alone. His
platoon sergeant was there and was going to stay there to make sure that even though Joe was gone from his
body, he was still protected. From the time his sergeant climbed into the truck until the time he arrived at
Bishop Airport and was taken to the funeral home, there was not one moment he was left alone. That kind of
dedication, love, commitment is something most of us will never understand or experience. Our undying
admiration is with these men. Although our thanks and gratitude is forever in our hearts, they do not need that
from us. That type of loyalty is ingrained in their spirit. Not a job for them, but a calling. Joe received the Bronze
Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge, and many medals, coins and commendations. Just like all of our
military heroes, he did not live or give his life for recognition. He had a purpose, a mission.
Joe will never unlace his combat boots and trade them for sneakers. He will never replace his combat helmet
with a veterans cap. No one will clap him on the shoulder or shake his hand and thank him for his service.
However, through his courage, strength, and bravery he lives on as a Hero. He will forever be a soldier.
We would like to honor the lives of SGT Joe Johnson, PFC Gunnar Hotchkin, CPL Dale Kridlo, SGT Aaron
Cruttenden, and all the brave soldiers of 161. "Rock Hard"