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Sgt. Joseph C. Nurre View/Sign Guest Book
Sgt. Joseph C. Nurre

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Age:   22
Hometown: Wilton, CA
Date of Death: 8/21/2005
Incident Location: Samarra, Iraq
Branch of Military:   Army
Rank: Sgt.
Unit: 463rd Engineer Battalion
Unit's Base: Weirton, WV

Remembrances may be made to the Joseph Nurre Memorial Football Scholarship Fund, c/o Elk Grove Community Foundation, P.O. Box 2021, Elk Grove, CA 95759-2021.

Below are excerpts from the letter Joe left in the care of a friend in December 2004, to be given to his parents if he was killed in Iraq.

Dear Mom and Dad,

If you are reading this, then the regrettable has happened. I know your grief is heavy now, but though you are stricken with sadness, let joy enter your hearts because you can know that I am with God and am waiting for you to join me in heaven, in 40 – 50 yrs. Remember, I don't want to see you sooner, so eat smart, exercise, and no drinking.
I tried to live my life the best I could and truly believe that I lived it to the fullest. Please try to remember the good times that we shared, because I think of them often. Ultimately we are all just shadows and dust on this earth, but because of our faith we shall live on forever.
Do not let grief control your life forever, take full advantage of all that God offers us. I know I did. If you ever miss me and think you need to see me again, reach into your heart and I will be there, loving you forever. I am at the dinner table enjoying our conversation, I am at the beach in Capitola skim boarding, I am at the many campgrounds we visited. Where you are, I am.
Know that I died for something. Though it is not perfectly clear what, I did die for at least two great things, God and country. Know that I tried my best and tried to make you proud.
Look at my pictures and realize I have lived a great and happy life.
Well, I wish I could write forever but I know I can't. Just remember I'll always love you. Don't make too much of a big deal about my funeral. Just please let my burial be a Catholic one, and that only foods I loved be served afterwards. And if you could, ask people to pray for my soul and Notre Dame football (we need all the help we can get).

Love Always & forever,

A hero is remembered for his heart.
By Lisa Pelch

"You died a hero, and that type of greatness was with you always."

These are among the powerful words posted on Joe Nurre's Web site as friends and family mourn the passing of a young man so deeply loved and admired.

Army Sgt. Joseph C. Nurre was killed August 21, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded near his military vehicle near Samarra, Iraq.

Charlie and Leigh Nurre say their only son loved his country and was proud to wear the uniform. He believed the work in Iraq needed to be done, and he was glad to be there doing it.

"You are going to be missed by all and we will stay here until it is over," a fellow soldier writes. "Miss you like a brother."

This life of just 22 years captured more hearts than imaginable. Calls and notes have flooded in to the family at their Wilton, CA, home, and more electronic messages are posted each day. Peers and people of all ages remember Joe Nurre for the huge heart that he opened to everyone he met.

"Your son was a gift from God, and we miss him terribly" wrote Spc Laurie Wentworth in a note to the Nurres. "Joseph was one of my best friends here in Iraq and I'm blessed to have known him. There aren't any words to express how my heart aches for you."

An only child who often joked with friends and family about his humored case of 'OCS' (Only Child Syndrome), he had so many who loved him like a brother. With his constant smile and quick wit, Nurre made friends wherever he went.

"He always had a funny story to tell," Charlie Nurre says. Friends say he could easily bring an entire room into laughter.

Warm and engaging, people were naturally drawn to him. Nurre could often be found among large, fun-loving groups – making trips to Capitola with his father and cousins, gathering with friends and fraternity pledges at Cal State Sacramento, inspiring teammates or fellow soldiers. More than just relishing moments for himself, he had an eye for welcoming people into his friendly fold.

Nurre graduated in 2001 from Elk Grove High School, where he was co-captain of the football team his senior year. Coach Mike Clemons says that in all of his 34 years of coaching, Nurre was one of the two hardest working players. Before reaching his military stature of almost six feet and 190 pounds, he was known to make up for his smaller size with his bigger heart. "He gave 100 percent, 100 percent of the time," Clemons says.

Joining the Army Reserve in 2003, Nurre deployed every bit of his characteristic dedication and drive. He sought out extra responsibilities, volunteering to train as a medic and a radio technician on top of his duties as an M60 machine-gunner with the 463rd Engineer Battalion stationed in Weirton, WV. In June, he was promoted to Sergeant.

It's no surprise to friends and family that he advanced so quickly. The Army saw what they knew all along: This was a very special man.

In July, Nurre had come home on leave after serving seven months in Iraq. "The two weeks that he was here were a gift straight from God," said Leigh Nurre.

"He had grown so much. He had learned not to sweat the small stuff. So much of what might have bothered him before didn't matter at all after being in a war zone. He was so patient and loving. When he got off the plane, he gave me the biggest hug he had ever given me. Had he not been home, I never would have seen the person he became."

The Nurres are grateful for the tremendous outpouring from friends and strangers alike. "It's just amazing," Leigh Nurre said. "And it's helpful to know that Joe touched so many people so deeply."

"One of the things you taught me," a friend writes to Joe Nurre on his Web page, "was that life doesn't always happen the way you want it to, but the most important thing is to look toward the future and smile. So with you in my prayers, I will look forward, despite the rain, and keep you in my heart forever."

Source: Associated Press
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