Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Spec. Joshua Lincoln Knowles
September 28, 1980 ~ February 04, 2004

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa

Specialist Joshua L. Knowles, 23, of Sheffield, was an occupant of a military cargo truck on February 5, 2004 when the convoy came under mortar attack at a military checkpoint outside the Baghdad International Airport. He was killed when his vehicle was struck directly by a mortar round. Specialist Knowles is being honored by the Department of Defense with the posthumous presentation of both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Visitation will be held on Friday, February 13, 2004, from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church Parish Hall Chapel in Rockwell. A wake will be held at the same location at 6:30 p.m. Services for Specialist Joshua L. Knowles will be held on Saturday, February 14, 2004, 10:30 a.m., at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rockwell. Burial with full military honors by the Iowa Army National Guard will be at the Sacred Heart Cemetery south of Rockwell.

Specialist Knowles enlisted in the 1133rd Transportation Company of the Iowa Army National Guard in Mason City in February of 1999 and was a military cargo truck driver for the Army. The 1133rd Transportation Company was mobilized on January 24, 2003. They arrived in Southwest Asia in April of 2003 and were based out of Kuwait for approximately four months before moving to the Iraq theater of operations. They have been operating in Iraq in support of the 3rd Corps Support Command. The unit is a medium truck company with a primary mission of providing transportation for equipment and supplies. The unit has driven more than 1,500,000 miles during their deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Specialist Joshua Lincoln Knowles was born on September 28, 1980, and was the son of Leslie and Sandra Knowles. He graduated from Sheffield-Chapin-Meservey-Thornton High School, Sheffield, in 1999, and was an active student, participating in football and many other activities.

He is survived by his parents, Les and Sandy Knowles, two sisters, Breanna and Michelle, all of Sheffield, and many relatives in the Mason City area.


Military Times Honor the Fallen

Army Spc. Joshua L. Knowles died February 5, 2004, serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom, 23, of Sheffield, Iowa; assigned to the 1133rd Transportation Company, Army National Guard, Mason City, Iowa; killed Feb. 5 when he was hit by a mortar round at a Baghdad International Airport checkpoint.

Family, friends bury slain Iowa Soldier
By Ryan, J. Foley, Associated Press

ROCKWELL, Iowa (AP) - At a solemn Valentine's Day funeral, friends and family remembered an Iowa soldier killed in Iraq as a fun-loving man who found his calling in the military.

Spc. Joshua Lincoln Knowles, 23, "discovered his true love of God and country'' during his time in the National Guard, which he joined as he graduated high school in 1999, the Rev. Dennis Cahill said at the funeral.

Knowles' service ended Feb. 5, when a mortar round struck the military truck he was driving at a checkpoint near the Baghdad International Airport. He was killed - the tenth Iowan to die in Iraq - and a passenger was injured.

On Saturday, more than 300 family members, friends, and acquaintances packed the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rockwell, 10 miles south of Mason City, to say farewell to Knowles, who lived his whole life in nearby Sheffield.

Noting Valentine's Day is usually associated with love, not loss, Cahill asked those attending the funeral to share their love with Knowles' family.

His mother, father, and two younger sisters sobbed. Fellow soldiers cried. Friends hugged. And they all remembered their time with the sports buff who could also be a prankster.

They laughed at the time Knowles died his hair blue and red for an Independence Day parade. They remembered when he ate 64 ounces of ketchup in two days with potato chips; an off-color poem he once read out loud at work; the time he butchered "Friends in Low Places'' singing karaoke.

Knowles played football and track in high school, and also liked golfing, snowboarding, and playing paintball, his family said.

"He was an exuberant young man who lived life to the fullest and pushed the limits with best intentions,'' said Cahill, who eulogized Knowles at the request of his family.

Pointing to a picture of Knowles dancing in the funeral program, Cahill said: "We believe he is dancing today in Heaven."

The church filled up more than 30 minutes before the service, and the overflow crowd packed into a nearby school cafeteria to listen to the mass.

Later, hundreds came to a cemetery south of Rockwell to see Knowles buried with full military honors. Soldiers gave him a gun salute and played taps as the crowd paid its respect with prayers. He was posthumously awarded the the Bronze Star, for heroic achievement during war, and the Purple Heart, given to those wounded in war.

Knowles was studying criminal justice at a community college and working as a woodworker in Mason City before he was called up.

"He had wanted to make the National Guard his career and was very proud to be a soldier," his family said in a statement.

Knowles was a member of the 1133rd Transportation Company in Mason City, which arrived in Kuwait in April 2003. The unit spent four months there before moving to Iraq, mostly transporting equipment and supplies.

Knowles would sign letters home "Peace from the Middle East." He sent his family a shirt that said "U.S. Soldiers Never Die - They Just Take Cover Until the Next Mission."

American flags fluttered in the wind on just about every corner of this small town.

At the Farmers Co-op in downtown, a sign read: "God Bless Josh Knowles and the 1133rd."


Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
February 02 2014

Honoring Josh
by Ashley Miller

ROCKWELL - Family members gathered Sunday morning to honor Spc. Josh Knowles, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country a decade ago during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Knowles, 23, of Sheffield died Feb. 5, 2004, after a mortar round struck the military truck he was driving at a Baghdad International Airport checkpoint.

He served in the Army National Guard's 1133rd Transportation Co. of Mason City, and was studying criminal justice and was a woodworker before being called for duty.

After attending Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, his family shared breakfast at the American Legion in downtown Rockwell. It's a tradition they've been carrying on each year since Knowles' death, said Grandmother Henrietta Cahalan of Mason City.

She best remembers her grandson as a "lively boy" who deeply loved his close-knit family.

"He was a great kid and was very proud to be in the service," she said.

Aunt Mona Beasley, Sheffield, described her nephew as a "character."

"You never knew what color his hair would be from day to day," she said with a smile.

Knowles also looked forward to spending time fishing, and ensuing family fish fries, which Cahalan said he never missed.

While overseas, Knowles regularly shared something he was looking forward to upon returning to Sheffield.

"He was always talking about coming home because he couldn't wait to have a beer with his dad, Les, on the deck," Cahalan said as she wiped away a few tears.

It's important the family keeps his memory alive, especially for the youngest members who never had the chance to meet him.

"We remember the good and the bad, but mostly the good," Beasley said. "We tell them stories about what Josh did growing up and how proud he was to be in the military."

Today, Beasley said they're speculating about the long-anticipated drink he would have shared with his father and the great man he would be today.

Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2016



Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
May 29, 2016

Fallen 1133rd Guardsman remembered on Memorial Day
by Steven Thompson for the Globe Gazette

OSAGE — Thinking about his friend Joshua Knowles, Phil Anderson said, “There is never a bad day to tell a solider ‘thank-you,’ but Memorial Day is a special day to remember those who fell.”

Anderson, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1133rd Transporation Company, lost Knowles in a mortar attack in Iraq in February 2004. Anderson enlisted in the Guard a day after his 17th birthday, completing basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, the summer between his junior and senior year of high school.

In 2003, the 1133rd was called for active duty in Iraq, where the company made its way across the desert to a base camp between Kuwait City and the border of Iraq.

“People think driving across Iowa is boring, but they have no idea what boring is till they drive across Kuwait and Southern Iraq,” said Anderson, 33. “Occasionally, you might see a herd of goats or camels.”

Stationed at a remote camp, the company transported supplies like bottled water or armored personnel carriers to other bases across Iraq. Anderson said each mission was roughly a week at a time.

“Often we would sleep in the cab, on the trailer or under the trailer in a camp,” he said. “We never stopped much while traveling, and our greatest dangers were sniper fire, rocket-propelled grenades or roadside bombs.”

Iraqis were generally friendly and happy to see the Guard, he said, but if people stared as they drove through town they would quickly leave.

After sixth months, Anderson’s unit moved to a new base in Iraq, which was less secure. It often received mortar fire. When shells came in, soldiers would go to bunkers for safety, hoping their equipment wouldn’t be hit because it was out in the open.

Anderson recalled the great camaraderie in his unit during the holiday season in 2013.

“Everyone was going around wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, even those who were of another belief,” he said. “The only thing we were thinking about was how we were there to help those oppressed people gain the American way of life.”

Among Anderson’s comrades was his close friend, Knowles, a Sheffield resident who was a couple of years older than him. They met the day Anderson enlisted.

“He was the happiest-go-lucky guy I have ever met and always joking,” Anderson said. “He was always a joyful person.”

Knowles was driving onto the base when mortar shells came in. Anderson ran for a bunker but Knowles’ truck took a direct hit, killing him instantly.

A few months later, Anderson returned to the states with his unit after serving a year in Iraq. He resumed his education at Iowa State, graduating in 2006. Anderson was farming in 2008 when he was called up by the 1133rd, landing in Kuwait on Christmas Day.

Anderson said his second tour of duty was quite different from the first.

“Equipment was much better and the conflict had wound down,” said Anderson. “It also was easier to keep in touch with family because there were more phones and Internet access available.”

Anderson said people can help veterans by being genuine and treating them as a neighbor. His neighbors helped his family with harvest while he was gone.

Anderson retired from the Iowa Army National Guard in 2010. Today he is employed at the Northern Country Fertilizer Plant in Stacyville. Anderson and his wife, Becky, have two children and a third on the way.

Steven Thompson is a correspondent for the Mitchell County Press-News, another Lee Enterprises newspaper.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2016



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