Downey Marine killed in action

DOWNEY - Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua R. Whittle, a Downey resident, was killed June 6 after he was struck by a land mine while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.He was 20. Whittle was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. He had been in Afghanistan only three weeks. Whittle was born Feb. 11, 1989. He grew up in Downey and attended Warren High School, and competed in the Mr. Downey Competition as a sophomore. He received his high school diploma from Downey Adult School in 2007. Towards the end of high school his mother and stepfather purchased a home in Fontana. But Whittle wanted to graduate with his friends so he stayed with the families of Kyle Cooper and Johnathan Polgar, who said they considered Whittle family. Whittle's mother, Crystal, said her son decided to join the Marines after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He enlisted in the Marines before he even finished high school. During his service, he was honored with awards such as a Global War on Terrorism Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Friends and family said Whittle enjoyed skateboarding, listening to music, dancing, drawing, being with friends, and writing poems about his feelings. "He was kind-hearted, inspiring, brave, determined, and had a great spirit," friends and family of Whittle said in a statement. "Josh will truly be missed but will always remain in our hearts." Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Capitol flags would be flown at half-staff in Whittle's honor. "Lance Corporal Joshua Whittle was a courageous American who fought tirelessly to protect our country," Schwarzenegger said. "Joshua went above and beyond the call of duty and his selfless dedication and sacrifice will not be forgotten. Maria and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joshua's family, friends and fellow Marines as they mourn this devastating loss." Mayor Mario Guerra said he remembered Whittle from his coaching days at West Downey Little League. "Our city is saddened by the passing of one our own hometown heroes," Guerra said. "Heroes give of themselves and Joshua contributed the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his country. We are extremely proud in Downey of this young man but suffer from broken hearts and ache for his family and friends. "As a parent I shed tears with his parents, as an American I salute his bravery and say thank you." The city will also fly its flags at half-staff, Guerra said. "On behalf of the citizens of Downey, I want the Whittle family to know that our prayers, thoughts and hearts are with them during this time," he said. "We know Joshua loved this community and we want them to know that our community loves him and will never forget." Whittle is survived by his mother, Crystal; stepfather, Carl; and grandmother, Shirley. A viewing will be held Sunday night at Miller-Mies Mortuary in Downey. Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at Downey First Baptist Church, where Whittle was a member. Burial will immediately follow at Riverside National Cemetery with full military honors.

********** Published: June 12, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 8

Eric Pierce