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Spc Joshua Paul Dingler

1st Battalion, 108th Armor Regiment, Georgia Army National Guard
US Army

Spc Dingler's Act of Heroism

Joshua was involved in a night mission on that fateful night. They were seeking out insurgents in a remote canal area of Mahmundyah, Iraq. The platoon had turned around many times on the narrow canal roads due to IEDs embedded in the dirt roads. It was pitch black and very dusty as the platoon maneuvered through the area headed for their meeting destination. Upon approaching what was known as an extremely dangerous turn between two deep canals they slowly made the turn one hummer at a time and proceeded to their designated meeting place. It wasn’t until all the vehicles arrived that they realized Saber 3 (my son''s hummer) was missing. Communication was bad that night and contact between vehicles was limited both vocally and visually.

As soon as the platoon discovered that Saber 3 was missing they immediately began searching between the meeting site and the last place Saber 3 was in contact with the platoon leader. After not being able to find them, they called for the helicopter search team. They were found a while later upside down in the canal back at the dangerous turn. It seems that one side of the road fell out from under them as they made the turn dropping them about 100 feet into the swift moving canal upside down. The hummer was stuck tight on its roof in the mud with only part of one tire showing when the helicopter discovered them.

The platoon was contacted and they returned to the place of the accident. Upon arrival they discovered that the collapsed road part of them had seen and avoided was not an old fall out but actually a new collapse causing the death of all three soldiers traveling in Saber 3 that night.

My Hero

Joshua was born in Dothan, Alabama on February 10, 1986 to the proud parents Reverend Tommy and Karen Dingler. Three years later the small family was blessed with the birth of another son Samuel who would be Joshua''s only sibling.

As a boy, Joshua played baseball on several teams, and enjoyed being a Boy Scout. He loved deer hunting and spending time in the woods. He also cut down tree limbs in order to carve walking sticks, canes, and staffs. If he could figure out how to make something he did. He once cut down a small 30 foot tree in order to make a flag pole tall enough to be seen from way down the road. He was so proud the day he raised that first United States Flag up on his very own pole. I’ll never forget as he completed his private flag raising ceremony, he stopped looked up high and saluted those Stars and Stripes. My heart was touched and I''ll never forget the accomplished look on his face as he turned and walked back to our front porch asking, "Mom how does it look." I told him perfect son, absolutely perfect. There has never been a day since that a United States flag has not proudly flown in front of the Dingler home.

Joshua has been described as a soldier of the cross and country. He died on the second anniversary of his enlistment when the army vehicle he was traveling in overturned into a canal during a night mission in Iraq. Joshua was born to serve his country, which was all he ever wanted to do. From a very early age, he declared he was going to be a soldier and he never turned back.

He was a member of the Hiram High School JROTC program and served as their Battalion Commander his Senior Year. Joshua''s Army Instructor R/LTC Bernard Booth stated that when Joshua entered the program in the ninth grade he knew he was going to be a very strong leader and an asset to the Army one day. With his ability to get things done and his strong drive, Joshua could not miss. He strove for excellence in everything he did and expected the same from those under his command.

When our Nation was attacked on Sept. 11, Joshua would have enlisted that very day if he had been old enough. On Aug. 15, 2003, he became the youngest member of his unit, at age 17, and the Douglasville, Georgia Army National Guard became his life. Those men became his additional family and he would gladly have given his very life for any one of them. Then exactly 2 years to the day of his enlistment he gave his life defending those Stars and Stripes he was so proud of. Joshua loved his country and was proud to be an American and a 108th cavalry scout in the US Army.

Joshua was a member of Picketts Mill Baptist Church in Dallas, Georgia. Joshua served his Savior Jesus with all his heart, and believed that his service to his country was part of his service to Christ. He believed that all people are important to God and regardless of where they happen to be born; they deserve the right to be happy and free. Serving in Iraq was an honor and privilege given to him by God and he did not take it lightly.

The life Joshua led brought him love and respect from hundreds. This was seen in the number of people who paid their respects to the family at the funeral home the day before his services were held. The family began receiving guest at 11:30am and a solid steady line began to form immediately. It is estimated that close to one thousand people from all over North Georgia waited in line for hours. The day of his funeral just shy of 800 people filled the auditorium and fellowship hall for his memorial services. The 15-mile processional to the cemetery, according to Paulding County Sheriffs Office was over 5 miles long bumper to bumper. Many people cared about Joshua. All of those who attended were people he knew or were lives he had touched at some point in his short 19 years.

Joshua also had a beautiful girlfriend he planned to marry when he returned home from his time in Iraq. He had already met with Katelyn''s Dad prior to deploying to ask his permission to marry her. With permission granted he was so excited, it was all he could do to not tell her immediately. However, he kept it quiet and Katelyn did not know this until after Joshua''s death. She knew they had plans she just didn''t know Joshua had already asked her Dad''s permission. He gave her a 3-diamond promise ring for Christmas just days before deployment with the promise that when he returned he''d ask her to marry him officially. She wore that ring with great pride and hope for his return and their future.

The following words were penned by Katelyn the love and joy of Joshua’s life.

Josh was my best friend and my first love. We were planning to marry when he returned home from Iraq. We were high school sweethearts and from the moment I met him I knew that there was something about him that was extraordinary, something that would ultimately change my life forever. He had so many gifts that set him apart from others our age. He was gifted at inspiring others, at leading by example, and at being the kind of friend that a person knew they could trust and rely on. From my perspective, he was always easy going and full of life. He was kind and genuinely selfless in so many ways. The impact he made in his short nineteen years is one that will last a lifetime in the hearts and lives of those who were blessed with the gift of knowing him. His contagious laugh, love of Reese''s peanut butter cups, and mischievous, yet disciplined, nature were a few of the distinguishing traits that made him so easy to love. His commitment to our Lord, Jesus Christ, and to protecting the liberties of the citizens of the United States were made apparent at an early age and even those who were not close to him knew what he stood for. Josh changed my life and although the pain of losing him shattered my world I would gladly take that pain over having never known him at all. I''m a better person as a result and I am so grateful for the blessing and honor of knowing and loving such an incredible man. He taught me so much about life and those lessons will live on in me forever.

Joshua is greatly loved and missed by his family. He is not only missed by his family but by the hundreds who also knew him. Joshua never met a stranger, and he befriended all who encountered him. Joshua spent his life being a friend and a leader/mentor to many. Joshua was a great kid and an amazing young man!


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