CPT Joshua T. Byers (USMA '96)
CPT Joshua T. Byers (USMA '96)
CPT Joshua Byers was killed in action when his convoy hit an explosive device east of Baghdad, Iraq on 23 July 2003. Byers was assigned to Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment, in Fort Carson, Colorado.
Josh Byers was born on April 15, 1974 in Anderson, South Carolina. He was a high achiever from the start and started talking about serving his country while still in his early years. When he was in the 7th grade he went with a friend to an Air Force air show at Shaw Air Force Base and fell in love with flying. He aspired to be a pilot someday and began to research how he could do this. In talking with one of his teachers at school he found out about the 3 military academies and began to read about them in the encyclopedia and wanted to attend the Air Force Academy since he had fallen in love with planes and flying.
While he was in the 9th grade his family moved to Reno, Nevada and Josh found out very soon that he wasn’t the popular guy he was back in Byrnes High School in SC. He struggled for several months with adjusting to the culture shock and missing his friends but he finally met a friend in one of his classes early in his sophomore year and started a lifelong friendship. He got active in Naval Junior ROTC at Reed High School and soon started thinking Navy or Marines may be the way to go. He shot up through the ranks in his ROTC class and by his senior year had accomplished being the Drill Team w/Arms Commander and the Battalion Commander. Motivation was behind Josh’s success. He worked hard to keep a 4.0 GPA in high school and was very active in student government and civic and church groups. He was elected Student Body President of Reed High School and also served as the student representative on the Washoe County School Board. As Josh learned more and more about the different branches of service he began to feel that Army seemed to fit his leadership style best. He received an appointment to West Point early in his senior year of high school and about a month later received an appointment to the US Naval Academy. He chose West Point and became a member of the Class of 1996 in June, 1992.
Times were tough at West Point especially during the first 2 years but Josh conquered the challenges and did well both militarily and academically. He served on the brigade staff in his junior and senior year and graduated in the top 25% of his class. His first army post was Fort Stewart, GA following his Armor Officer Training at Fort Knox. He finished Air Assault School while at West Point and completed Airborne and Ranger School before reporting to Fort Stewart. After a 6 month deployment to Kuwait in 1998 he got engaged; he and Kim were married on Dec. 19, 1998. After Fort Stewart he and Kim moved to Fort Leonard Wood in MO where he had more officer training and received his Masters in Engineering from the University of Missouri Rolla. They were assigned next to Fort Carson, CO.
While at Fort Carson Josh was on the General’s staff and after a few months he became the Aide-de-Camp for the Commanding General on post, General Hondo Campbell. Several months before troops began deploying to Iraq to fight the war on terrorism Josh was assigned to Headquarters Company and helped train soldiers for urban warfare during the months of waiting for deployment. His regiment deployed to Iraq in late March and early April of 2003. After 3 months in Iraq he became the Company Commander of Fox Troop in the 2/3ACR. He loved being a company commander and soon gained the respect of his company and led them in many treacherous missions. On July 23 as the company was getting ready to move from AR Ramadi to AL Fallujah, Josh was in the lead vehicle of the convoy and about 2 miles out of Ramadi an IED was detonated and struck the humvee that he was in along with 3 other soldiers and his interpreter. As the smoke was filling the air Josh gave a last command to his driver to “Keep Moving Forward”. This command saved lives. The gunner was seriously injured but now still serves in the army as a Sergeant Major.
Josh loved his country and died with valor. He told his family as he left to go to Iraq that he would be home soon but if he didn’t make it home alive that there was no better way to die than in service to his beloved country.
Proceeds from the CPT Joshua T. Byers bracelet will be donated to Joshua's Mission in his memory.