Joshua Barrett Madden
Joshua Barrett Madden, known as Josh Madden (May 24, 1985 - December 6, 2006), was a United States Army sergeant killed in the Iraq War whose parents, Jerry Wayne and Cindy Lou Richardson Madden of Minden, Louisiana, launched a campaign to bring recognition to their son and others killed in the conflict.
At sixteen, Madden was deeply impacted by the September 11 attacks in 2001 and decided from that point forward to embark upon a military career. In 2003 at the age of eighteen, Madden enlisted in the Army and completed basic training and javelin throwing at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was then stationed at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii, and served his first tour of duty in 2004 at Kirkuk, Iraq. He returned to Hawaii in 2005, where he had a tattoo made around his arm of the cross of Jesus Christ and the Crown of thorns. In the spring of 2006, he received Special Forces training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. At twenty-one, Madden was among eleven soldiers killed in Iraq, when he and four other young men in their Humvee encountered a 1,500-pound roadside bomb while they were conducting operations near the northern town of Kirkuk. Young Madden had planned to leave the Army in June 2007.
Born in Minden, Madden was reared in Sibley, Louisiana. His father is a music minister and his mother a long-time music teacher for several area schools. He had three siblings, Jennifer Madden Benamati and husband Scott, David C. Madden and wife Megan, and Kevin D. Madden. In 2003, Joshua Madden graduated from Minden High School, where he was listed in Who's Who Among American High School Students and received both the Drama and the American Legion awards. He founded the MHS Honor Guard, which served as the color guard for special programs at the school. He was a member of the Minden High School Crimson Chorus and performed in several productions including Hello, Dolly!. He entertained residents of area nursing homes by dancing as Gene Kelly. On July 4, 2001, he sang with the Crimson Chorus on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., as part of the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. In high school, he joined the Civil Air Patrol at Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier City, Louisiana. He was a member of the Springhill Baptist Church in Ringgold in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
On October 5, 2005, at the Old Soldiers Chapel in Hawaii, Madden married his childhood sweetheart, Aimee Danielle "Dani" Smock, from Athens in Claiborne Parish. In early August 2006, he was deployed to Kirkuk for his second tour. Their son, Jaxon Levi Madden, was born on September 1, 2006, in Shreveport, Louisiana. He had only two weeks to spend as a father with Jaxon.
Madden was descended from two prominent families of Webster Parish, Louisiana. His maternal great-great uncle was E. S. Richardson, the Webster Parish school superintendent from 1921 to 1936 and thereafter until 1941 the president of Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. Madden's maternal grandfather, Dr. Thomas Allen Richardson (1911-1976), was the long-time coroner in Webster Parish. A maternal great uncle, the physician Samuel Milton Richardson, Jr. (1909-1986), was a long-time member of the Webster Parish School Board. His paternal grandparents, who survived him, were Jimmie Wayne "Simon" Madden (1929-2010) and the former Dorothy Mildred Galloway (1929-2007). For decades the grandparents owned and operated J.W. Madden Construction Company and Madden Supply Company in Sibley. Madden's namesake paternal uncle is Michael Barrett Madden, the younger son of J. W. and Dorothy Madden and only sibling of Jerry Madden.
Memorial highway exchange
On August 1, 2012, Exit 47 on Interstate 20 in Madden's hometown of Minden will be named in his honor. The Louisiana State Legislature through Act 121 designates the "Sergeant Joshua Barrett Madden Interchange" at the Minden-Sibley exit in Webster Parish. Young Madden was reared in Minden and Sibley. The designation was included as an amendment to a bill which establishes the "Purple Heart Recipient Highway". Republican State Senator Robert Adley, who represents Webster and Bossier parishes, added the amendment on April 12, 2012 during deliberations of the Senate Committee on Transportation.
Cindy Madden hopes that the naming of the interchange for her son will create a precedent so that others who gave their lives in active duty combat can also have permanent memorials in their honor. "When people forget about the soldiers and their sacrifice, that's when we lose the value of our freedom," Mrs. Madden told her hometown newspaper, the Minden Press-Herald.
Jerry Madden proposes that all eighty-nine Louisiana soldiers who perished in the war should have similar honors. "We went all the way to Williamsburg, Virginia, and all the way back I saw these signs on highway and bridges and intersections dedicated to dead soldiers, and I thought why can't we do that?"
His mother's letter
A letter from Cindy Madden, read at her son's services at the First Baptist Church of Minden in 2006, said that he lived the "American Dream." She described him as:
all boy [with] a smidgen of mischief, a cup of kindness, and a genuine tenderness for children. He would want me to say to you that he was not the model soldier. He was just one of many soldiers. He was not perfect. He was just one spoke in the wheel. He would not have wanted this attention paid to anything he did because he didn't feel that his part was special — it was just his part. Maybe the lesson from his death, his destiny, was to die a common soldier's death and touch the hearts of people who have forgotten what all servicemen and women are doing for this country.
Maybe we were to remember what we have forgotten about love, family, country and our God. Maybe we were to see that there is so much good in the country and that it is worth dying for. Maybe we were to realize, as we gather to enjoy the freedoms we have, that there are men and women out there keeping the wolves from the door and that is getting harder and harder to do.Next time you see the news of soldiers killed in action in Iraq, think of Josh. Attach his face to the unknown face of each of those eleven soldiers. Remember how they suffered with us as we struggled with the news of his death, the decision we had to make about his remains, the promise we kept to meet him when he came home and the anguish we all feel today as we lay him to rest — remember. He was just a common soldier who did what most of us wouldn't do — he laid down his life for all of us."
Sergeant Madden twice earned both the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Iraq Campaign Medal. He also received the Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.
With the permission of then Governor Kathleen Blanco, flags of the City of Minden and the Webster Parish School Board were lowered to half-staff on the day of Sergeant Madden's funeral. He was interred at Gardens of Memory Cemetery in Minden after a 21-gun salute and the playing of "Taps". Madden's parents subsequently established a private memorial in their yard at the intersection of Summit and Gladney streets in Minden dedicated to all soldiers killed in combat.
- James Gulledge and Jana Ryan, "His Memory Lives". Minden Press-Herald, June 6, 2012. Retrieved on June 15, 2012.
- Joshua Barrett Madden obituary, December 14, 2006. Shreveport Times. Retrieved on June 15, 2012.
- John Andrew Prime, "Family identifies one of the Schofield soldiers", December 7, 2006. Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved on June 16, 2012.
- "Dr. E. Richardson, 75, Dies Wednesday in Ruston Hospital", Minden Herald, October 13, 1950, p. 1
- Jimmie Wayne "Simon" Madden obituary. Shreveport Times, October 23, 2010. Retrieved on June 16, 2012.
- Dorothy Galloway Madden obituary. The Shreveoort Times, November 24, 2007. Retrieved on June 16, 2012.
- In Memory of Sgt. Josh Madden. tennhuntandfish.proboard.com. Retrieved on June 16, 2012.