Joshua Charles Brennan, 22, was killed Oct. 26, 2007, in a combat mission in Asadabad, Afghanistan. Joshua was born May 30, 1985 in El Paso, Texas to Janice Gates, Ontario, and Michael Brennan, McFarland, Wisconsin.
Joshua attended high school in Ontario, and graduated in 2003. He spent his summers living with his father in McFarland, Wis.
Soon after graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a paratrooper with the renowned 173rd Airborne Infantry Brigade. This was his second tour of duty in Afghanistan. Joshua was awarded the Bronze Star for valor during his first tour of duty. He also received a Purple Heart after being shot in the leg in Aug. 2007.
Joshua is survived by his mother, Janice (Jason) Gates, Ontario, and his father, Michael Brennan (Michelle), McFarland, Wisc. He is also survived by his brother, Robert; sisters, Jessica, Brooke and Courtney, Ontario; sisters, Christina and Brittany, McFarland; his grandparents, Chuck and MaraLee Stoffers, Concord, Calif.; Victor Baker, Carson City, Nev.; Mary Ellen Brennan, Fitchburg, Wisc.; Diane Richel, Madison, Wisc.; and Jim (Ann) Richel, Marshfield, Wisc.
Other survivors include uncles and aunts, Laurie Summers, Parker, Colo.; her two children, Audrey and Charlie; Aaron Stoffers (Lydia), Oregon City; and son Jack; Jill (Salama) Stoffers, Monterey, Calif.; and very special friend, Jared (Niki) Cutler and daughter Alex, Ontario, Terry (Laurie) Lewallen, Goshen, Ind.; John Brennan, West Allis, Wisc.; Joe (Laurie) Brennan, Slinger, Wisc.; Mindy (Lloyd) Phillips, Belvidere, Ill.; Melissa Richel, Waukegan, Ill. Joshua is also survived by many cousins, special relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his grandfather, Robert Brennan.
A viewing for Joshua’s body will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, at the Corpus Christi Catholic Church, situated at 900 N.W. Seventh, Fruitland. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, at the Corpus Christi Church, Fruitland, followed by a reception at the Ontario Elks Lodge, situated at 20 S.W. Third St., Ontario. Joshua will be laid to rest in McFarland, Wisc.
Condolences to the family may be made at www.lienkaemperchapels.com. The family asks that contributions be made to the Sergeant Joshua Brennan Memorial Fund in lieu of flowers and gifts, the fund has been set up at the Associated Bank, 5220 Farwell Street, McFarland, WI 53558.
The gifts will be donated to military charities such as the USO and college fund for children of soldiers who died in the service of their country. Joshua died a hero to his family, comrades in arms, and his country.
Twenty-two year old Sergeant Joshua Brennan gave his life to serve and was killed while serving in Afghanistan. His cousin talked about growing up with Josh. She remembered good times of playing hide and seek, kick the can, and swimming around as children. “Looking back on the way we always got together when Josh would come home, it was like we all knew we would have him a short time,” his cousin said.
However, in his short life Sgt. Brennan made a huge impact. During his first tour of duty in Afghanistan his natural leadership and strength were noticed – especially by his squad leader. “He was a guy that could be responsible for others he could handle stress that most people couldn’t fathom.”
Josh was a fighter. A letter to the Brennan family from Captain Mark Bush describes Josh’s efforts to save a fellow soldier during his first tour of duty. The letter read “For the 45 minutes that it took for the MedEvac bird to arrive. Josh continued to do CPR on Lt. Derrick Huntz, even though he knew he was gone, Josh refused to let go. I was left with the impression that as long as Josh felt, he could make a difference he would continue to give his all,” wrote Capt. Bush.
For his efforts he was named soldier of the year for the 173rd Airbourne Brigade and given a bronze star. A rare recognition for a soldier of his rank. Sergeant Tom Hunter said, “You guys throw the word hero around a lot and that’s good, but Josh Brennan was a hero before he died.”
No one could probably understand Josh’s efforts more than Sgt. Hunter. He served by Josh’s side and has been by his side since he died. Sgt. Hunter says before they left for their second tour of duty he was talking to Josh – telling him he was concerned about the two of them and their safety. “He looked me in the eye and he said, ‘I don’t know what your worried about.’ He’s like, we are both going to get out of here fine.’ Sgt. Hunter paused, choking up.
Things didn’t end just fine for those who knew and loved Josh. Josh’s first tour of duty squad leader said, “Here we are Josh standing right beside you and I know you are looking down from above . . . . We’re still your brother. We’re still your brothers.”
Many of Josh’s brothers in arms came across the country to attend the memorial and burial. Sgt. Hunter made sure they were all recognized as well. “I would like all of you to stand up right now and be recognized as Josh’s brothers, said Sgt. Hunter as the room erupted in applause and standing ovation.
For his brothers in arms along with family, friends, and law enforcement gathering together was just one way to show their support for the man who fought, sacrificed, and will forever be remembered for his heroic efforts. “None of us will ever forget the sacrifice he made,” said Sgt. Hunter.
“Josh we love you and we miss you. I know you are having a blast in heaven and we’ll see you soon,” his cousin said.
Tuesday the military presented his family 5 medals honoring Josh and his service. They were presented with two bronze stars, a purple heart, the Afghanistan Campaign medal, and the Global War on Terror service medal.