I didn't know him, but his story is one of many that hits home in many ways....
The Coconino High School grad and decorated Army veteran touched many lives in Flagstaff and abroad. He was an honor student. He was a soldier who served his country in Afghanistan. He was beloved by his family and friends and will be deeply missed.
Joshua "Josh" A. Pete, 23, died Monday when his bicycle collided with a city garbage truck on Butler Avenue in Flagstaff. His father, Amos, said his son was on his way from his temporary job at W.L. Gore's eastside campus to classes at Northern Arizona University.
He was born April 26, 1986, in Chinle.
Raymond Etcitty, his uncle-in-law, said, "He was very, very challenging to himself -- always wanted to help somebody. He was a caring, humble individual."
According to information released by the family, Pete attended Christensen Elementary School and Mount Elden Middle School.
After graduating from Coconino High School, Pete could have gone straight to college, but Etcitty said Pete wanted to serve his tribe, his community and his country by enlisting in the U.S. Army.
After completing basic training, he was sent to Afghanistan with the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Polk, La. Amos said his son eventually attained the rank of specialist. He served as a fire team leader, providing force protection to military installations in Afghanistan.
BELIEVED IN WHAT HE DID
Among Pete's awards and distinctions are: Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal and Expert Infantry Badge.
Amos said he appreciates the support of family and friends.
"There's been so much support," Amos said.
Kathleen Jones of the Marines Army Navy Air Force support group said Pete was one of the first Flagstaff soldiers to whom the group sent care packages while he was deployed.
Jones said she last saw Pete at a MANA event at the American Legion NAU Homecoming breakfast on Oct. 24.
"The times we were around Josh, he was quiet, well-mannered, really appreciated all the care packages we sent him," Jones said. "He did believe in what he did."
THERE WERE TEARS
Etcitty said that the military service established in Pete a desire to become a public servant and focus on being helpful to his tribe, his community and his country. He was known for his discipline in achieving his goals.
Pete served one tour of duty in Afghanistan and was honorably discharged from the Army in May 2008. He then enrolled at Northern Arizona University in the fall of 2008 to study visual communication, according to information from NAU.
Chris Johnson, Pete's communication professor at Northern Arizona University, said he told his classmates today in visual communications. There were tears.
"Josh was a great student," Johnson said. "He had potential to be a great designer."
The class focuses on multimedia and Web design, Johnson said.
"He was a well-respected guy," Johnson said. "It's hit us pretty hard and he will be missed."
Amos said he had recently been talking to his son about going into a Web-based business together. Pete was to design the Web site.
Pete is survived by his father, mother Michelle, sister Clarissa and a large, extended family.
Amos said that burial will be at Citizens Cemetery in the Veterans Section. Service information is still being finalized. Donations can be made to Lozano's Flagstaff Mortuary in Flagstaff.
By... By LARRY HENDRICKS, AZ DAILY SUN -- November 18, 2009