(Amarillo, Texas – November 25, 2012)
Funeral services for the first of four wounded warriors who died a week before Thanksgiving when a Union Pacific freight train hit the float upon which they and their spouses were riding during Midland’s annual “Show of Support/Hunt for Heroes” parade were held Saturday in the same church where Joshua Michael was married 15 years ago.in Amarillo, TX.
Hundreds of friends, family and former comrades-at-arms gathered at Cornerstone Church to both say goodbye to the twice-decorated, twice-wounded, medically retired U.S. Army Sergeant and to offer support to his grieving family, wife Daylyn, son Ryan, 14, and daughter Maci, 7.
In the nine seconds between the time the train sounded its horn and when it struck the float, Sgt. Michael threw Daylyn from the flatbed semi-trailer float, saving her life as he sacrificed his own.
That act of heroism came as no surprise to Sgt. Michael’s former commanding officer, Army Captain Robert McKibben, who spoke at his fallen subordinate’s service.
“Few men are blessed to die as they lived,” said Capt. McKibben. “But Josh did, helping others. His final act was selfless and amazing.”
Others in attendance were equally complimentary of the life Michael had lived. “He’s one of the best human beings I’ve ever met in my life,” recalled Josh James, who was a fellow paramedic with Michael when they served as paramedics in San Antonio, TX. “He opened his heart to the world, which is what makes this so hard,” James continued.
Amy Rogers, daughter of the Cornerstone Church pastor and best friend of Daylyn’s for 20 years said “It’s an enormous undertaking to begin the next chapter of her life. Everything from changing bills into her name, the car note, the house payment. But if anything, she is resilient and she is strong,” Rogers continued. “And I know she doesn’t think so right now, but she will get through this,” Rogers concluded.
While at least a hundred members of the Patriot Honor Guard lined the gravesite with large American flags, an Army Honor Guard fired a three-shot salute, and then folded the American flag draping his casket and presented it to Sgt. Michael’s widow and children.