Another local soldier has lost his life fighting for freedom in a foreign land.
The Department of Defense announced Sunday the death of an Villa Rica soldier and Alexander High School grad who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Bowden, 28, of Villa Rica died Aug. 31, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with small arms fire while on dismounted patrol.
He was assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 71st Ordnance Group (EOD), Fort Carson, Colo. Bowden was an explosive ordnance disposal specialist.
Bowden was a 2003 graduate of Alexander High school where he was a two-sport athlete and was the captain of the school’s soccer team in his senior year.
Alexander's Stephen Beatty was the soccer coach at Alexander when Bowden played there and remembered him an an outstanding athlete and a better person.
“Our hearts go out to his entire family," Beatty said. "He was a tremendous young man and one that was well-loved here. He was the kind of person who stayed in touch and just last Spring he came back to visit when he was home on leave. He was a great person, who worked hard and just had a special love for life. He was the kind of young man who no matter what he did, he would work to be the best. It doesn't surprise me that that was still the way he was as a soldier. I can't imagine what his family is going through, but he will always be in our hearts.”
Bowden joined the Army in late 2005. He was on his second deployment. He previously deployed to Afghanistan from 2008-2009.
His awards include the Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Parachute Badge, Air Assault Badge and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge.
Douglas County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tom Worthan offered his condolences to Bowden’s family.
“We grieve with Josh’s family and friends over the loss of this brave soldier who died defending freedom,” Worthan said. “We know that God has a special place in Heaven for these souls who willingly stand between us and evil. We will be praying for Josh and his family during these difficult days.”
Douglas County School System Athletic Director and Director of Safety Georgie Chip is a military man who was at Alexander during Bowden's time there. He said that Bowden will leave behind a legacy.
"It had been a long time since I had visited with him, but he was a tremendous soccer player, a great kid with the kind of personality that people just gravitated towards," Chip said. "I saw where he had actually been called on to do a demonstration for Congress on the kind of work that he did. That is a tribute to him. Working with explosives is a demanding job. But to do it well, and to do that job on two separate deployments – that is a testament to the person he really was."
Two members of his platoon posted a letter explaining more about the mission and talked about what Bowden meant to them.
"In the early morning hours of 31 August 2013, Staff Sgt, Joshua Bowden died of wounds received while supporting a Special Frrces Operational Detachment-Alpha during a targeted patrol, Capt Jeremy Tullis and Sgt. Chris Phillips wrote. "Josh was an integral part of his platoon and the 748th as a whole. We know that all of you share in the deep sense of loss that we all fee; no one can replace Josh in our hearts or formation.
"Many members of the EOD community from across the United States were with him as he started his journey home on Sept. 1. Please keep his family and loved ones in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this healing process in this difficult time."
Douglas County Department of Communications and Community Relations Director Wes Tallon said they have been in contact with the family and the county will assist them as needed.
“The family has headed to Delaware to be there when Josh is returned there,” Tallon said. “The county has offered whatever services that we can provide to the family during this difficult time.”
Details of any possible memorial services for the fallen hero have not been released, but will be made available as they become known.
This is the second local soldier and Alexander graduate to die in recent years in Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Scott Harper, 21, of Winston was killed on Oct. 13, 2011 when his unit was ambushed while on a mission in Afghanistan.