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Applegate, Calif., man was among eight soldiers killed last week in Afghanistan ambush

October 9, 2009 | 11:35 am
Defense Department officials on Wednesday announced the death of a Californian who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.


Army Sgt. Joshua M. Hardt, 24, of Applegate, northeast of Sacramento, was one of eight soldiers killed Oct. 3 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked their contingency outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and indirect fire.

"How can you sum it up?" his mother, Shelley Bell, said in the Auburn Journal. "He was a very giving son. He went into the Army wanting to make a difference … wanting us to be safe."

Since late 2001, The Times has chronicled the lives of military personnel who have died while serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their stories, photos, personal websites and additional material have been collected in the California's War Dead database. Readers are invited to leave memories of their loved ones and colleagues.

-- Maloy Moore

Here are some recent posts:

Navy "I knew Allan growing up, he was one of my closest friends. He was the short guy in our crew, even though he really wasn't that short he just looked short at a distance. Allan was the type of friend that no matter what, if you  needed him he would be there. We both entered the service, I joined the Marine Corps and he the Navy.  Even when in uniform he was still the same Allan that I knew from back in the day. I suppose that is why he became a Navy Corpsman.

It was just in his nature to take care of folks, the fact of him being a Navy Corpsman proved that. I think about Allan from time to time, from days of football practice, stealing my moms car and going for a joy ride, throwing back a few brews, or complaining how horrible it was having to train in 29 Palms. Allan will be sorely missed but he will never be forgotten!"

— Redentor Pedrick posted Friday on Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Allan M. Cundanga Espiritu, 28, of Oxnard, who died Nov. 1, 2005 in Ramadi, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated.

Army "When we were deployed it was always such a joy for me to see Legrand. He always had a beautiful smile on his face and was so genuine and sincere in his kindness. I never heard a harsh word out of his mouth from the first day he arrived at the unit. I always enjoyed the gentle strength that he had when dealing with myself and his peers."
— Victoria Parker posted Friday on Army Spec. Damon G. Legrand, 27, of Lakeside who died June 12, 2007 in Baqubah, Iraq, when insurgents ambushed his convoy.


Army Sgt. Thomas McGee "I also had the honor of serving with SGT (Tommy) McGee in Kosovo. Actually the first time I met him in the dining facility I asked about his haircut because of how 'wild' he'd grown out the top; months later we reminisced about it and had a good laugh. Tommy would talk about his future law enforcement aspirations and life in the South Bay. I remember sitting in the Minneapolis, MN airport when Tommy's name appeared on the DoD casualty list. I couldn't speak and felt myself go numb because I knew it was him. His has been the most difficult OIF / OEF casualty for me to bear. To those around him, and strangers alike, he was always honest, kind, and generous: a young king; and taken from us all way too soon. I think of you frequently, Tommy. To his family: your son was one of the more decent young men I have met in quite some time. I know you remain proud of him. rsc"
— Lt. Ronald S. Clark (jake) posted Thursday on Army Sgt. Thomas P. McGee, 23, of Hawthorne, who died July 6, 2007 in Wazi Khwa, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb.


Army Spec. James L.Beckstrand, 27 "I was searching for old friends on facebook. Known Jim from Marines in North Carolina, in which, many of us lost touch of the years.I am very sadden to hear of his death. I did not know he passed away until today. I would have never known if the Los Angeles Times link didn't appear at the bottom of the page with his name on it.I am so sorry. He was a great man, GOD Bless him. He will be truly truly missed.

— Rebecca posted Thursday on Army Spec. James L. Beckstrand, 27, of Escondido, who died April 29, 2004 near Mahmoudiya, Iraq, when a driver in a station wagon detonated a car bomb near his unit.


1st Lieutenant Kenneth Michael Ballard

"I still think about Ken all the time. I wish I could have told him how much he would always be a part of my life. I hope he knew."
— Noelle Dunn posted Wednesday on Army 1st Lt. Kenneth Michael Ballard, 26, of Mountain View, who died May 30, 2004 in Najaf, Iraq, in a firefight with insurgents.


Army Private 1st Class Cole W. Larsen "I was a good friend of Cole's. I met him freshman year, we had two classes together. I had at least two classes with him every semester all four years of high school. Many times I told people that Cole was the funniest person I knew! that guy had his own humor that nobody else could match. Some say that I am pretty funny too so when me and Cole had classes together, oh man we had people laughing all day! he kept a straight face too when he said funny stuff, which to me...made his humor even better. Cole was oneof my favorite people I went to school with. -Love ya and Miss ya Cole.
— Talon Potter posted Monday on Army Pvt. 1st Class Cole W. Larsen, 19, of Canyon Country, who died November 13, 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq, when a civilian truck collided with his armored military vehicle, causing it to roll over and kill him.