Ironton boy waits for cousin to return from Iraq

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2003

Twelve-year-old Luke Aldridge's voice wavers and his eyes become moist as he sits in his living room explaining how Joshua Osborne, his brother as far as he is concerned, is fighting for America in the war with Iraq.

Although the 20-year-old Osborne is actually Luke's cousin, the two have grown up together and are much closer than average cousins, said Wendie Aldridge, Luke's mother and Josh's aunt.

Josh Osborne has faced a lot of adversity in his life. His father passed away when he was seven and his mother succumbed to cancer when he was 16. After living with the Aldridges off and on his entire life, he came to live with them permanently in 1999, Wendie said.

Email newsletter signup

"It was a rough road for Josh. He has overcome a lot of obstacles," she said. "That is why my son and Josh are so close. They call each other, and truly consider each other, brothers. They have shared a room, shared everything. This has been hard on Luke."

Luke last talked with Josh in February, but said he thinks about him every day. As he anxiously awaits the next call, Luke said he will have plenty to say to him when it finally comes.

"I would tell him that I am proud of him," he said with the emotion evident on his young face. "And that we love him and miss him."

When he first heard that Josh wanted to join the military, Luke said he did not take it seriously.

"I did not think he would do it," Luke said. "He just didn't seem like the type. I wish he would have chosen a different job."

Luke now waits, worried and anxious, for his brother and friend to return so they can hit the fishing holes and shooting range like they used to.

The family attended the support our troops rally in Ironton Thursday. Luke took a picture of Josh with him and said it made him feel good to see so many people supporting the military.

Josh enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 2002, missing his June graduation from Ironton High School because he was in boot camp at Parris Island, S. C.

He is a private first class in the 1st Battalion 7th Marine regiment, Charley company.

As an infantryman, Josh was deployed in January and is currently on the march to Baghdad.

"He is right on the front lines and that is what really scared us," Wendie said. "We tried to talk him out of infantry, but he said that he just felt like that is where he belongs."

It is important to realize that men and women from Lawrence County are in Iraq fighting for the freedoms of everyone, Wendie said.

The Aldridges' television has constantly been tuned to CNN to watch for reports from a journalist who is with Josh's unit. Although the coverage has been great to keep them up to date, Wendie said it has posed some unique challenges.

"Luke asked if Josh would be OK when he went into Baghdad," she said. "That is a hard question to answer. I tell him to keep praying for Josh and everyone else over there and to keep his faith."

The media coverage has been good because it lets everyone know exactly what is going on in Iraq, Luke said.

"If it was not for the television and the Internet, we would have nothing," Wendie said.

Above all the Aldridges said they know that Josh has overcome

hardships and that his personality and character will bring him home safely

"He is funny and crazy," Luke said. "He makes us laugh."

"Josh is a comedian. He is full of life," Wendie elaborated. "He is either driving you crazy or making you laugh."

Laughter, prayer and love are what the family will continue to rely on to pull them through.