Small Texas Town Mourns Fourth Iraq Casualty Pvt. Ron Joshua Jr. is the fourth person from the small Texas town of Pflugerville to die in Iraq. Friends and family from the Austin suburb buried the 19-year-old soldier this week.
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Small Texas Town Mourns Fourth Iraq Casualty

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Small Texas Town Mourns Fourth Iraq Casualty

Small Texas Town Mourns Fourth Iraq Casualty

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The war in Iraq hits at home again for the small Texas town of Pflugerville. Four people from this community just outside of Austin have died in the fighting. The city recently dedicated a special memorial to the fallen soldiers. And now, another name will be added - 19-year-old Private Ron Joshua Jr., whose funeral was this week.

From member station KUT in Austin, Julie Moody has this remembrance.

JULIE MOODY: Black Hawk Convenience Store is a sad place these days. Ron Joshua Jr.'s funeral announcement sits on the counter.

(Soundbite of people talking)

MOODY: This is where he got his first job. His aunt, Dawn Drew, is the store manager and his mom now works here. Drew says Joshua was a typical military brat with military in his blood.

Ms. DAWN DREW (Joshua's Aunt): His dad has been in the military 21 years. He's a master sergeant. I've been in the military. I'm a disabled vet. His uncle was in the military. His grandfather was in Vietnam. My sister, his mom, was also in the military. In fact, they were - his mom and dad - were both in the military when he was born.

MOODY: And so it came as no surprise that Ron Joshua Jr. enlisted in the Army two months after his high school graduation last year. He was a military police officer and a driver. His cousin Denita Anderson spoke with him the day before his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb.

Ms. DENITA ANDERSON (Joshua's cousin): He called me and he sounded really stressed out. He said wouldn't get much sleep, and that it was hard over there. And I was like, well, be careful. And the last thing I told him was I loved him and he said, I love you, too.

MOODY: Anderson says Joshua loved football, wrestling with his younger cousins, acting silly, and dressing up in elaborate costumes especially on Halloween. He had recently started dating a former classmate, 17-year-old Michelle Pilent, and they were talking about marriage.

Unidentified Man: Are you ready?

MOODY: To demonstrate her love, Pilent is getting his name tattooed on her wrist in fancy cursive and angel wings and a fallen soldier symbol on her back. She is determined never to forget Ron Joshua Jr.

Ms. MICHELLE PILENT (Joshua's Girlfriend): I'm planning on going into the Army. My mom hates it but I want to fight in his honor.

MOODY: His cousins and younger sister performed at his funeral.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Not ever have I imagined living without your smile.

MOODY: They are hoping their beloved Ron will hear them, and maybe he will. For NPR News, I'm Julie Moody in Austin, Texas.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) And I know you're shining down on...

SIMON: This is NPR News.

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