In memory of USMC Lance Cpl Kevin B. Joyce (KIA 6/25/05)
WINDOW ROCK — The U.S. Marine Corps in Albuquerque confirmed July 7 that U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Kevin B. Joyce of Klagetoh died in the line of duty in Afghanistan, according to his uncle Emerson George of Waterflow, N.M.
Lance Cpl. Joyce, 19, was declared Missing in Action on June 25. He was a member of the USMC, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
“After 10 days of being listed as MIA, we received the final notice,” George said today. “The family right now is in the process of making all necessary funeral arrangements through Tse Bonito Mortuary.”
George said Lance Cpl. Joyce was identified by fingerprints by the Marine Casualty Headquarters of Dover, Del. He said the unfortunate delay in informing the family was necessitated by the length of time it took to find him and the identification process afterward.
“The family would like to thank everybody for their support and for expressing their condolences,” George said. “We waited this long to make a press release due to the unconfirmed reports, and we had to make sure that it was him. We hope that this does not occur in the future to other Navajo families.
“All other media statements or articles that were put forth were done without our consent,” George continued. “The media should respect the family’s request pertaining to news being disseminated before the family is informed. The family is owed an apology for news articles that contained erroneous information and information that the family was not yet even informed of.”
On Thursday, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., proclaimed that all flags on the Navajo Nation be flown at half-staff from July 7 to July 15 in honor of U.S. Army Corporal Lyle Jim Cambridge, 23, who lost his life in Iraq on July 5 and Lance Cpl. Joyce.
The proclamation says that the Navajo Nation honors all soldiers and veterans for their courage, service and commitment on the frontlines of war, and for their willingness to give their lives so that there will be freedom in the land and that the DinŽ way of life will be protected.
George said Lance Cpl. Joyce’s funeral was tentatively set for Monday, July 10. Information regarding precise time and location may be obtained through the Tse Bonito Mortuary. Burial will at the Fort Defiance Veteran’s Cemetery with full military honors.
Lance Cpl. Joyce is survived by his mother Effelita George, an older brother, Nathan, a younger sister, Michelle, and his maternal grandparents, Dan and Bessie George of Klagetoh.
George described his nephew as a generous, caring, concerned and patriotic young man of the highest caliber.
“He told his mother and family the main reason why he went into the military is that he didn’t like to see fathers and the mothers go to war,” George said. “He told them that he would readily take their place to serve his country, that they might not have to.”
“He was greatly loved by all the numerous aunts and uncles and their siblings,” he added. “His mother endured tremendous grief through this ordeal as well as the other family members, relatives and community.”
Family friend Chaplain Irene Brodersen of the Maricopa Integrated Health Services described Kevin as a spiritually devoted young man.
“Kevin proudly served his God, his nation and his country as an United States Marine with the highest integrity and dignity,” she said.
Arizona State Sen. Albert Hale of Window Rock, who is assisting the family, said the family members are handling their grief with love and dignity and support.
“I can’t help but notice how close the family is,” he said “They exhibit a lot of strength in this time of tragedy.”
“We rely on and draw our strength from the Lord, our faith and the love we have for one another,” George said. “We’re standing on one of the scriptures that says if a house is divided among itself, it will not stand.
And I’m sure the same holds true not only for churches but also for governments, the media and even our country.”
“No greater love is there than this that a man lays down his life for another,” Mr. George added.
He said family members may be available for media interviews at a later time but for now requests that reporters respect the family’s wish for privacy in this time of grief.
People who wish to make donations of food, finances or other items can deliver them to Dan and Bessie George’s residence, House #4, NHA Housing, Klagetoh.
(George Hardeen is Navajo Nation Communications Director.)