One of Joshua’s childhood nicknames was Sunny Boy which fit his joyful, fun-loving personality. In the military, his mates called him Sugar Hips because of the candy always filling his pockets. But Joshua didn’t mind because he was secure in his masculinity. He even took his mother’s purple-ribbon bedecked standard poodle on his 10-mile runs. That was until the day the dog grew tired and he had to carry the tired dog, which attracted the attention of passing truckers, who tooted their horns at him. He had a dry sense of humour and could laugh at himself.

Joshua had lived all over Western Canada and in the Arctic with his family. He had travelled extensively both on his own and with the military. He had been to the USA, Bosnia (with the peace-keeping reserves), Afghanistan, Thailand, China, Europe, Hungary and the United Kingdom. He was fluent in French but loved to use Pig Latin.

He wasn’t into team sports except as an avid soccer fan. He did like to push himself into new adventures. Although he couldn’t swim as a child, he certified as an open water scuba diver in Thailand. Joshua had also earned his private pilot’s licence in Saskatoon. He was a natural leader and also a guy’s guy, who enjoyed hanging out with his friends playing Guitar Hero, or motor biking, camping and drinking beer.

Joshua’s family had a military tradition and Joshua loved everything GI Joe and even slept on his eight-foot long GI Joe aircraft carrier. His imagination allowed him, with his troop of GI Joes, to wipe out his sisters’ Barbies. Later, he gravitated to Star Wars with the same intensity.

He always wanted to be a soldier, and joined the reserves right from school at 17. He did well, rising in the ranks, but wanted to do more for Canada’s interests. He joined the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which meant a demotion in rank, but he was soon successfully working his way back up.

Although not scholarly, and easily bored, learning came naturally to him. He explored math, the sciences and history. One of his studies was the strategies, not the politics, of historical military generals as diverse as Caesar to Hitler

Joshua commanded a light armoured vehicle III. It was his personal creed of honour and loyalty that meant he took his responsibility for the lives of his crew seriously. His response to his mother’s asking how he felt about his job was, “Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.”

The military was his brotherhood, but he was primarily a family man. After his final tour, he planned to join the RCMP, marry his fiancée, and raise their expected child.

By Janet Rolfson

Portrait by Shairl Honey