We Remember Sgt. Joshua Rodgers and Sgt. Cameron Thomas
Nothing wounds the heart of an American patriot more than when our service members lose their lives in defense of our nation. To those who have made the supreme sacrifice, President Ronald Reagan would say, “All we can do is remember.” Remember them we will.
On April 27, 2017, Sergeant. Joshua Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Illinois, and Sergeant. Cameron Thomas, 23, of Kettering, Ohio, were killed in a night raid against an Islamic State compound in Afghanistan. Rodgers and Thomas were members of the Army’s elite 75th Ranger Regiment. They were a part of a force that was composed of 50 Army Rangers and 40 Afghan commandos. The raid targeted Abdul Hasib, the head of ISIS’ Afghanistan Branch.
"75th Ranger Regiment- Afghanistan, September 2009." (Photo: onesixthwarriors.com)
The assault force came under heavy fire moments after being inserted by helicopter into the area. The firefight lasted nearly three hours. According to ABC News, “Airstrikes from fixed-wing aircraft and Apache helicopters were called in to support the American and Afghan forces in the firefight.” After the fighting had ended, 35 ISIS fighters had been killed. It is believed that the primary target Abdul Hasib was among them.
NBC News reports that Rodgers and Kettering, “Were injured during combat, medevaced, and later died." General. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said, “The fight against ISIS-K is important for the world, but sadly, it is not without sacrifice.”
"Army soldiers carried the remains of Army Sgt. Joshua Rodgers." (Photo: The New York Times)
After graduating from Normal Community High School in 2013, Sgt. Rodgers enlisted in the United States Army. He was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan when he gave his life for his country. On Saturday May 6, Rodgers’ hometown came together to celebrate his life. Cody Schiever wrote an article for Ciproud.com, in which he detailed this gathering of friends, family, and loved ones. Brandon Reeves was a good friend of Sgt. Rodgers. In his reflection about Rodgers, he said, “He taught me to care about my friends and family before myself.” Reeves added, “Joshua would go above and beyond for any of his friends and family members, before he would even hesitate to do something for himself.” Reeves writes that, “Hundreds of people filled the church, thousands more lined the streets, showing their support.” It was a fitting tribute to a true American hero. Rodgers family put it best; “Even though he’s physically gone, Josh will remain forever with his loved ones.”
"The hearse carrying Sgt. Joshua Rodgers' casket passed through a flag raise, lifted by two tower ladders from the Bloomington and Normal Fire Departments." (Photo: WJBC.com)
A candlelight vigil was held at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering, Ohio to honor the memory of Sergeant. Cameron Thomas. According to Dayton Daily News, more than 100 people were in attendance.
A candlelight vigil held on May 3, 2017 to honor Sgt. Thomas. (Photo: Dayton Daily News)
Some people spend their whole lives trying to find their lifelong dream. Sgt. Thomas was living his. Thomas’ family said that it was always his aspiration to become an Army Ranger. Tina Hohl’s son was a friend of Thomas. She said, “He was always there to help everyone, and we knew him affectionately as ‘Captain America.’” Hohl also recalled a skydiving trip that Sgt. Thomas was a part of in high school. In her words, “I think he really wanted to go skydiving not because it was cool but because in his mind it prepared him for the Rangers.” Thomas joined the Army right after High School. Like Sgt. Rodgers, he was also serving his third deployment to Afghanistan at the time of his death.
Sergeant. Cameron Thomas. (Photo: WDTN.com)
Secretary of Defense James Mattis commented on these two extraordinary men, saying, “Our nation owes them an irredeemable debt, and we give our deepest condolences to their families.” Sgt. Rodgers and Sgt. Thomas exemplified every ideal that makes the American spirit so special. Heroes make history, and most importantly, heroes are never forgotten. They will live on forever in the form of our flag. Rangers lead the way.