Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Joseph E Phaneuf

Eastford, Connecticut

December 15, 2006

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
38 Army SSG

1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Brigade

Hartford, Connecticut

 Killed in Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations.

From Patrick Sullivan 01/27/07:

Joe and I grew up together in the quiet little northeast corner of Connecticut. We played football together at Putnam High School, where we graduated in 1987. Joe was a great guy and a good friend. I live in Maryland now and have lost touch with most of my classmates. I was saddened to hear news of his death. Nearly 20 years ago we shared the Putnam High School Clippers' battle to many championship battles on the gridiron. It doesn't surprise me to see the devotion to service that Joe exemplified in his life. That is typical of the kind of guy he was. While I was unaware of his death and was unable to attend the funeral, my thoughts and prayers are with his family. I live an hour from D.C. and will be sure to visit his grave every time I visit Arlington.

Pat Sullivan
Putnam High School Class of 1987

From Chris Cozza 01/02/07:

Hi, I knew Joe for just a short period; we started working for T-Mobile the same week about five years ago. In that short time we became friends, a working friendship I guess you would call it. Joe was an all around great guy; I can’t say enough what a real, real good guy Joe was… is. When he signed up to go back into the National Guard that was typical of Joe, he had to be there. He came back from Iraq after being away for a little more than a year and we thought we had him back for good. But if you knew Joe you knew it wasn’t over for him. He signed back up this time going to Afghanistan for a sixteen month tour. I was in contact with Joe while he was there as were many of his friends, my wife and I sent him care packages and the like. All of it he shared with his men, also taking the candy, pens and such giving these to the children he met while out on patrol or when he visited the local schools in Iraq. Joe celebrated his thirty eighth birthday on Dec 7, I last talked to him on the sixth of December. A week later he was killed when his Humvee he was driving hit an IED. He was to come home this June. Joe received a full military funeral and was buried at Arlington on December 29th, I was there. He received the Bronze star along with the Purple Heart. While standing there listening to taps I looked around at the many tomb stones around me and kept noticing the same thing written on them. It was the dates, all the soldiers buried next to Joe had been killed in 2006 and I could not help but shed a silent tear. These were just kids, not many over the age of twenty two; they did not yet experience life and what it had to offer. That night I sat and thought about Joes first night in Arlington, he wasn’t alone but surrounded by heroes from different wars. And if I knew Joe he was having a good time listening to war stories told by soldiers past, he would not let something like this stop him from living. Joe I will miss you more than you will know and I am proud to be able to say you were my friend and hero. “Tough people don’t cry” but I can’t help but shed a tear or two when I think of you. 

From Norwich Bulletin 12/18/06

Eastford soldier killed in Afghanistan, Governor orders flags to half staff

A 38-year-old Eastford soldier was killed in Afghanistan Friday by a roadside explosion, his wife said.

Military officials notified Michelle Phaneuf of Eastford Saturday her husband, Connecticut Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Joseph Phaneuf II died Friday when a vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb.

According to his wife, Phaneuf was a member of the First Battalion 102nd Infantry. He had served in the military in the 1990s and re-enlisted after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Governor M. Jodi Rell ordered United States and Connecticut flags to be lowered to half staff to honor Phaneuf.

“I speak for all Connecticut residents in sending my heartfelt condolences to the family of Staff Sgt. Phaneuf,” Rell said. “Joseph Phaneuf was a volunteer citizen-soldier who served his state and country in the truest sense. His example of service and sacrifice is as inspirational as his death is tragic. We need to always remember that fine men and women like Joseph Phaneuf step forward to protect us, regardless of the risk and danger to themselves. I know that Joseph will be honored as a hero of Connecticut and our nation.”

Maj. Gen. Thaddeus J. Martin, Adjutant General and commander of the Connecticut National Guard, said, “It is very difficult to lose another great soldier who answered the call to duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Phaneuf family and all our service members still on duty in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Funeral and burial arrangements have not been made, but Michelle Phaneuf said her husband wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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