Denison native Joe Joie, 1985 graduate of Denison High School, is again residing in Denison after a year-long stay in Iraq with the U.S. Army. For his service, Joie received a Bronze Star, a Joint Service Commendation Medal and a Combat V for Valor among others. He also gained a new rank while in the sands of Iraq. He went from 1st Sgt. Joie to Command Sgt. Maj. Joie.
Joie's military status has been returned to Army Reserves but he says, if he's called up again, he'll be proud to go back. He has more than 20 years invested in the military and, while one might expect him to be ready to get out after the experiences of the past 12 months, wife Paula, also a Denison High graduate, is the first to say “I hope he wants to stay in but I'll be happy with whatever he decides.”
Joie, himself, says he wants to stay in. This was not his first deployment. He's been deployed to several hot spots around the world over his military years. But this was probably the most dangerous. Joie was dispatched as part of special forces intended to train foreign troops. He was charged with the responsibility to train Iraqi forces to be able to carry the load. He's seen the troops he trained come along to be able to handle missions on their own so he has a little trouble understanding reports in the news that say the U.S. is making no progress in Iraq. “We served as military advisors and started up a whole brigade, about 2,600 Iraqis,” he said. “The 3rd Brigade of the 5th Division of the New Iraqi Army.”
He commented that it's important to the mission in Iraq to have enough troops to secure the border. He added that most of the insurgents are foreigners crossing the border unimpeded to wreak havoc where they may. He said he also feels strongly U.S. troops should remain there until the mission is finished. They should not pull out early.
“Ninety-five percent of the Iraqi people are glad we are there,” Joie said. “The news that reaches the American public just isn't telling the whole story. I don't understand why they don't tell any of the good that is done.”
Joie said his own unit spent much time helping the nationals, especially the children. They bought school supplies and furnishes clothing the children wouldn't have had otherwise.
For his part, Joie said he became good friends with one of the two interpreters assigned to him. His friend and interpreter Ali was a university trained artist who had an art gallery in Baghdad before the war broke out. He has told Joie he was glad Saddam Hussein was deposed and there is a new regime. He also produced two stunning portraits of Joie which are today, proudly displayed on the walls of the Joie household.
When asked about his meritorious valor for which he was cited, Joie was hesitant to talk about it. The story is grizzly by any standards but, Joie said it wasn't the worst in which he was involved. This is the incident that gained him his bronze star.
While traveling in a line of several vehicles, the unit was attacked and one vehicle was struck with an Improvised Explosive Device. Several men were badly injured including the company's medic. Joie's vehicle went back to give aid and Joie, who has a medical background, went into immediate action treating the injured. His quick action is credited with saving their lives, all the while, they were under fire. Other men in the unit provided protection while the injured were cared for.
Two helicopter medevacs were called in to pick up three of the wounded and Joie helped secure the landing zone and then directed the helicopters in to land.
He said, when things started happening, he didn't really think about it, just went into automatic action. That's how their training takes over for them. Joie said he just knew what to do and did it. He didn't really think about it until it was over. They couldn't leave the damaged vehicle behind because of the advance equipment contained in it, so he stayed in the disabled vehicle as it was towed back to the base. Joie said, it was then that the seriousness of the attack began to sink in.
The Combat V awarded to Joie is also called a V-device and is authorized by the military as an attachment to certain awards and decorations. It denotes accomplishments of a heroic nature in direct support of operations against an enemy force. Joie is an American hero because of his many achievements of valor. Most considered him a hero when he put on the uniform and went to war. His family is proud of his accomplishments and decorations too, but, most of all, they were happy to have him home for Christmas.
Welcome home 1st Sgt. Joie.
By Joyce Godwin
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