Army Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk


30, of South Portland, Maine; assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo.; died Oct. 3, 2009 in Kamdesh, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his contingency outpost with small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and indirect fires. Also killed were Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos, Spc. Christopher T. Griffin, Sgt. Joshua M. Hardt, Spc. Stephan L. Mace, Staff Sgt. Vernon W. Martin, Sgt. Michael P. Scusa and Pfc. Kevin C. Thomson.

To honor SGT Joshua J. Kirk, his widow, Ms. Megan Gavin-Kirk retrieved this stone near the academic classrooms of Southern Maine Community College, in South Portland, Maine. This is the spot where Megan and Joshua first met and shared a class.  Megan retrieved this stone on  the date of their wedding anniversary.


Watch this video to learn why this stone is significant and what you need to know about SGT Joshua J. Kirk if YOU carry this stone up and down the mountains of Maine.

Also to honor SGT Joshua J. Kirk, his uncle Mr. Jerry Dinsmore retrieved this stone from the east branch river of the of the Oyster Lake near SGT Kirk’s birthplace in Thomaston, Maine.

Also to honor SGT Joshua J. Kirk, his mother Bernadette Kirk-Bonner retrieved this stone from the Moyie River in Moyie Springs, Idaho.

Bernadette Kirk-Bonner describes this origin of this stone and talks about her son —

“I am Bernadette Kirk-Bonner and the proud Gold Star Mother of Sgt. Joshua John Kirk who was killed October 3, 2009 at COP Keating, located in the Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

The stone that you are carrying today was taken from the Moyie River in Moyie Springs, Idaho. Joshua and his family lived and played beside this river from the time he was four until he grew up and left home at age 21. Joshua and his 5 siblings (4 sisters and 1 younger brother) spent many wonderful summer days on the river, rafting and swimming. This stone is a reminder of those happy times.  This stone also signify his love of rock climbing. When he was 19 he attended a Colorado Outward Bound 30 day mountaineering program. He returned with a passion for rock climbing as well as a deeper love for the wilderness he grew up in. If he were alive today I know that this is a journey he himself would undertake on behalf of the fallen.  The mountain you are climbing today is significant on another level as well. While in our twenties, his father and I climbed this mountain and had our picture taken at the top. John has since died and I am too old to climb with you today but rest assured, we are both with you in spirit.

Everything that you need to know about Joshua was written in the book entitled, “The Outpost; An Untold Story of American Valor.” I hope you have or will take the time to read it. I am excerpting the passage that follows:

Kirk’s men saw him as being unafraid, unthreatened, and, at times, unrestrained. During firefights, he would tell them, “If you think you need to shoot something, shoot it. It doesn’t matter how much ammo you might waste. If you need to kill it, kill it.” Most of the guys at the outpost were tough, but Kirk, he was crazy brave-fearless. Absolutely.

Kirk had been born at home in Thomaston, Maine, the son of a Vietnam veteran who transformed himself from the dope-smoking head of a motorcycle gang into a born-again Christian carpenter. When Josh was five, the family moved to fifteen acres of land not far from Bonners Ferry, Idaho, a small town best known for U.S. law enforcement’s siege of a compound at nearby Ruby Ridge in 1992. The Kirks had running water but no electricity; their closet neighbors were five miles away. Joshua and his five siblings were homeschooled. Their entertainment was entirely self-created; building forts, sleeping in tents, playing flashlight tag, and, when they were teenagers, engaging in elaborate games of war. One such game, invented by Joshua, came to be called Test of Courage; it basically consisted of devising terrifying tasks and daring the other players to attempt them. The challenges started out harmless enough but then quickly escalated to dangerous acts such as exploring an abandoned silver mine, walking on top of the old Eileen Dam, and body-surfing fierce river rapids. In retrospect, it seemed astonishing that no one had ever died.

Kirk was back in in Afghanistan pretty quickly. He had been entitled under Army “stabilization” rules to have twelve months at home. He had returned to Afghanistan before he was required to. “I wasn’t going to let my soldiers come here without me,” Kirk, a team leader, explained.

The ancient Athenian general Pericles, in his funeral oration for the war dead said: ” Usually decision is the fruit of ignorance, hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger.”

Sometimes courage is rooted in ignorance, as when men who don’t know what they’re about to face rise to the occasion. Joshua Kirk had ample knowledge about how dangerous it was in Nuristan, and yet he had hurried back. The palm of courage.”


  1. Amy and Tom says

    Hello, My name is Tom, My wife Amy and I are proud members of the Patriot Riders. We will be extremely honored to carry Joshua’s memorial stone. I wish to thank Joshua and his family for your ultimate sacrifice. We are so proud of him, God bless him. He will never be forgotten. After learning about Joshua, I think he would love this journey to the top of Mt. Katahdin.

    • ZM says

      I was the scout who gave you Joshua’s stone. It was nice to meet you and I am happy we did team work to get Joshua’s stone to the mountain.


  2. Jennifer Hildreth says

    Thank you for carrying this stone and Josh’s name and memory on. As Josh’s former roomate and very close friend, I think of him often and cherish the photos and countless memories we had together. This video made me smile at how wonderfully you spoke of him and his confident, sarcastic, goofy, softer side. I look forward to hiking up and touching the stone you place in his memoy. He truly was a one of a kind man, in the best of ways. Warmest Regards,
    Jennifer Hildreth

  3. ZM says

    Dear family,
    I am a Webelos 2 and I represented your loved one on 5/23/14 when the motorcycles took off to Mount Katahdin. I was the one who gave a rock to the motorcycle couple and they drove off with the special rock. I will be praying for you and your loss.

  4. says

    Ben Sprague wrote — When David Cote told me about the Summit Project I told him I thought it was a great project and that I especially liked the distinctly Maine theme of hiking stones up our state’s tallest peaks. I wished him well and said I would follow the project with interest. When he asked me to join on the hike, I said, “What? You want me? I can’t do that.”

    My resistance was not through lack of interest, but rather because I thought as a civilian I would be infringing upon (quite literally) sacred space. Even as the weekend approached and I met others associated with the project and heard the stories about those we were honoring I felt that it was not my place to be among this group.

    As the weekend progressed, however, the barriers I thought existed between the armed forces community and the civilian one slowly dissolved. This happened for two reasons, I think. One, we were all committed to the same mission: to honor Maine’s fallen service members and to support their families and loved ones in doing so.

    And second, and what really hit me during the hike and after, is that I had in my mind this image of Sgt. Joshua Kirk, in whose memory I hiked, as being a superhero. I imagined him being like a fictional G.I. Joe character and it was hard to feel a connection that. Here he was, fighting tooth and nail at some distant desert outpost on my behalf in a world and environment that I could not possibly comprehend. I might as well have been hiking in honor of Captain America.

    But as I made the trip up the Owl Trail with Megan Kirk, Josh’s wife, she told me about Josh the father, Josh the husband, Josh the neighbor and family man. Suddenly he did not seem as much like the image I had built up in my mind and more like the kind of guy you’d see at the hardware store on the weekend or go fishing with.

    As I talked with Megan, it became clear to me that she wanted Josh to be remembered as a hero, yes, but not as a caricature. She wanted him to be remembered for the special person he was every day, not just when he was fighting on our behalf.

    And with that conversation, I felt the divide between Megan’s military family and my civilian family lessen.

    I can never imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one in a war or to even have a loved one overseas or to be there myself. There are certain things about the military lifestyle that I will never be able to relate to nor necessarily should I since I haven’t been a part of it. But I am happy that through the Summit Project we were able to (hopefully) show military families that there are many in the civilian community who support and respect them not just on holidays or special occasions, but all the time. In return, I was grateful for the opportunity to get a close look at what life is like for these families. We did the hike on Memorial Day weekend and I distinctly remember Megan looking at me and saying, “Every day is Memorial Day for us.” That really hit me.

    As an elected leader in Bangor, Maine, I worry that America’s veterans are being used as political fodder. I remember one retired service member saying that veterans are “American politician’s favorite chew toy.” I think it is important that we make efforts to really understand our veterans’ concerns and those of their families and to tackle the complexity instead of just waving a flag, slapping on a pin, and saying patriotic words and phrases. It is comforting to think of our service members as red, white, and blue all-American heroes, and of course they are, but they are also just American citizens like you and me who have chosen to do extraordinary things. To me that makes the act of military service all the more amazing and yes, heroic.

    I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to share in Sgt. Kirk’s memory. I offer my thanks to his family for sharing their stories with me and to David Cote for organizing this wonderful project. I hope to continue to be involved in the future and to work to bridge the gap between military life and civilian life.

  5. says

    From Any Charles — Trek Across Maine 2014;

    In June 2014 I participated in the Trek Across Maine, a 3 day/180 mile bike ride from the mountains to the sea. This annual event supports the American Lung Association’s good works promoting healthy air, and as a regular participant I also rode to honor my dad’s memory – he was a military veteran like me.

    This year was particularly meaningful to me because I also carried a memorial stone for Army SGT Joshua Kirk. SGT Kirk met his future wife Megan near my home in South Portland, so I felt a connection even before learning about his life and service to our country.

    Prior to the ride I learned as much as I could about SGT Kirk from the TSP website and from conversations with his widow Megan. She is a gracious & powerful woman who wears her loss with dignity and purpose. During the three days of the Trek SGT Kirk’s stone was with me continuously, and I shared his story with over 100 other riders along the way. Many people took time to hold the stone, snap a photo, and hear the story of Josh’s service and sacrifice. This showed me the real meaning of creating a living memorial. And on the second night of the Trek over 1500 people heard about TSP at a rally attended by all the participants.

    After the ride I met Megan and her daughter Kensington in person, and shared some of my experiences from the Trek. I told them about all the people who heard SGT Kirk’s story, and the way they responded with respect and appreciation for his service. It was very moving to be with them after carrying the stone. While the idea was initially intellectual, it quickly became real once the stone was with me. In fact, it felt strange to return the stone after the ride – it had become part of my life for those few days.

    To SGT Joshua Kirk: Thank you for your service, for your courage & sacrifice, and for stepping up to support and defend our nation. You paid the ultimate price, and no matter what others may say about the conflict that took your life they cannot lessen the impact you made and will continue to make through keeping your memory alive.

    To Megan Gavin-Kirk: Thank you for showing us how to grieve through celebrating Joshua’s life rather than solely by mourning his death. You set an inspiring example for your daughter and others who learn of Joshua’s story. Through your actions you are the embodiment of a living memorial.

    To Kensington: Your daddy gave his life for his country, and sadly he will not be with you as you grow up. But his spirit will always be there with you. It’s clear you are an amazing girl and you will thrive and grow into a woman of purpose like your mom. I hope the living memory of your father will be a positive influence in your life.

    I was honored to carry SGT Kirk’s stone and be a part of The Summit Project. It’s real, it matters, and it connects on a level way deeper than words can express. If you have even a casual interest in participating…go for it. You won’t regret it!

    Andy Charles

  6. Rob Dinwoodie says

    To the Family of SGT Joshua Kirk,

    My name is Rob Dinwoodie, and I am a Captain in the Marine Corps and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran. I had the honor of carrying one of Joshua’s memorial stones up Owl Mountain during the Summit Project at Baxter State Park on Memorial Day weekend. In the weeks leading up to The Summit Project hike, I learned everything I could about SGT Kirk on the internet, in books, and through correspondence with his Uncle, Jerry Dinsmore. The narrative of SGT Kirk’s life and sacrifice is inspiring and has put my role as a Marine Officer and the true nature of leadership into greater perspective. SGT Kirk exemplified all that is expected of a military leader; tough, caring, smart, and brave. Above all he was dedicated to his soldiers and did everything, including giving his own life, to save his men. He lived the warrior ethos of Honor, Courage, and Commitment, and reminded me that regardless of my duty station and job, I need to as well.

    I am currently stationed at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., far away from the front lines. Every single day, for the past several years, I drive three miles to work and park next to Arlington National Cemetery. From there, I walk one mile to the Pentagon entrance, past thousands of headstones where heroes are buried on this nation’s most sacred ground. After walking under a tunnel I emerge at the Pentagon Memorial dedicated to those 184 souls that died on September 11, 2001, when hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 slammed into the building. Every day, I look at the Pentagon and notice the different colored limestone denoting the parts of the building that were rebuilt after the attacks, and the limestone that has been there since the Pentagon was built in 1943. Every day, I walk through the halls that 13 years ago were a smoking ruin, and where the first blood was shed in the war against terrorism. Every day, I make the same return trip to my car, but in the afternoon, I walk past hundreds of tourists visiting the Pentagon Memorial. The Pentagon wall’s limestone, the Arlington National Cemetery headstones, and the memorials to the victims of 9-11 all speak of great sacrifice, but I have grown accustomed to their presence and ignorant of their true weight. Unfortunately, the mundane nature of my daily routine has made me forget the enormous weight of the sacrifices that are testified in the monuments around me.

    The true weight of these war’s sacrifices became tangible again- and my sworn duty to support the warrior’s on the front line in all of my daily actions- when I held Sgt Kirk’s memorial stone, felt its texture, and read his name, rank, and life span. When I carried the stone up Owl Mountain I was reminded that the weight of war’s sacrifice is real, all around us, and borne by many, many people. It was truly an honor to be a part of the Summit Project and meet all the amazing people involved. It was an honor to carry the memorial stone of your loved one, SGT Kirk, and a true privilege to learn about his life and his warrior spirit. It is now my duty to help keep his memory alive, and I will tell his story for as long as I can. SGT Kirk has left an indelible impression on me and I will never forget the true weight of his sacrifice.

    Semper Fidelis,
    Captain Rob Dinwoodie, USMC

  7. playcarsmomma says

    I was asked by my sister, Cherie Sackville of Scarborough, Maine to look at this website prior to our annual hiking trip in the White Mountains. She encouraged me to take on this added responsibility. She committed to carrying Capt. Jay Brainard’s stone. At first I was reluctant. I am a novice hiker and the thought of carrying extra weight was a little daunting. However, once I viewed the Summit Project, I immediately scrolled through the bios and was amazed at the heroism and sacrifice and I thought it was the least I could do to carry a stone up a mountain. So, after reading Sgt. Kirk’s bio and listening to his widow’s video, my connection was made and I committed to this whole-heartedly, knowing that this was a small sacrifice to make after reading all of the personal stories of pain and loss that these heroes and their families have endured.

    Our first day up Valley Way to Madison Spring Hut in the White Mountains was exceptionally humid and hot. The trail is shrouded in trees so it doesn’t get much breeze. I knew I was running low on water and I was struggling to make the last mile. I was sure that I was reaching dehydration or heat exhaustion. My coordination was getting unsteady so we stopped again for a break. I was sure we weren’t going to make it. However, as part of our girls trip, I packed a little wine for our mountaintop reward. I said out loud, “Only I would bring more wine than water. If Jesus can turn water into wine, I sure hope he can turn wine into water.” No sooner had we put our packs back on and taken two steps and my sister yelled, “Oh my God, there’s a bottle of water!” It had fallen out of someone’s pack and rolled off the trail. We both started jumping up and down. I started to cry. It was as if it had been sent to heaven. Cherie looked at me and said, “It’s from our guys!!! They’re looking out for us!!” We simply could not believe it but it powered us through the last mile up to the hut safely.

    The hut croo allowed my sister, Cherie to do a brief presentation of The Summit Project that night after dinner and we displayed our stones for all 52 people who were staying there that night. I had printed out Sgt. Kirk’s bio and people were genuinely interested in the project and the lives of those soldiers who were with us that trip. I was proud to be able to explain the project and what it meant to both of us.

    The next day we continued on the Gulfside Trail toward Mt. Washington for 6 miles. Everyone that we spoke with at the hut the night before this day told us it was difficult but that’s not what we had read about or was mentioned in planning this trip. We knew it would be a long day but worth it because we would be summiting Mount Washington with our stones. The weather was starting to roll in so we were hurrying to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and eventually made it eight arduous hours later to the top. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. The weight of the pack was inconsequential knowing what others have sacrificed for me. It was a journey that I will never forget and I am honored and humbled to have carried the stone of Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk. I hope I have carried on his spirit of adventure and commitment to excellence that makes me proud to say he was part of my journey and a life story that I will continue to share for many years.

  8. George T Broskey says

    Hi Debbie, This is a great story. I’m sure Jesus was looking out for you and Sgt. Kirk…you left no stone unturned.

  9. Teresa Leeman says

    Hi Megan, Wanted to let you know that I have your husband’s memorial stone. I am a critical care nurse at MMC, in Portland. Another nurse and I did the Run for the Fallen this past Sunday where I learned about the Summit Project. Since I live near SMMC I decided that I would bring Joshua’s memorial stone on my hike this thursday. Your story of how you met at the school was wonderful, I jog by the school a few times a week. My sister is turning 50 thursday, on for her birthday she wants to hike Mtt Katahdin, so that is what we and 8 other friends are doing. It is her first time up the mountain ( I have been up it 8 times) so Joshua is coming along. I plan on posting pictures to the facebook website with Sgt Joshua Kirk’s journey up a mountain with 8 women. From listening to your video, talking about him, I think he would be up for the adventure. Some are experienced hikers other first timers. I is an honor to carry his memorial stone. All the girls will learn all about him.

  10. Doug Kerr says

    My name is Doug Kerr. I want to start off with saying that this will not be eloquent or pretty. But, then again, neither was the run I did.
    I first heard of the Summit project while participating in the Run For the Fallen this year. Maj Cote was filing into the crowd at the start of the race and was talking with another runner. The discussion of whose stone they carried was intriguing. It was obvious that those involved were excited and proud of what they were doing. Post race, Russ Shoberg, my wife Charissa, and I made our way over to the table of rocks. We spoke at length with Ben and Dave about what the project was about, and certainly we were moved. At the time I think I was unsure of where it would move me.
    That afternoon was beautiful, the food was wonderful, and the band played on. As usual, there were many hand shakes and thank you’s for service and sacrifice. That event is so moving, I have a hard time communicating what it means. Those RFTF events make the short list of the most important things I do these days. Senior veterans, young volunteers, sharp and rigid Marines, Brunswick FD, and masses of people all to honor our heroes we have lost, and support the ones they have left behind. I honestly don’t know what to say when family members tell me thank you. They’ve got it all backward. For 4 years now Russ and I have been floored by the unity we feel during these events. God bless them all.
    One beautiful young lady accompanied by her even prettier daughter stopped me to comment on my ACU kilt I doned for the occasion. When I told her I had made it, and made it from the uniforms of our proud soldiers, she told me she loved the idea. She was wearing an all too familiar Running In Memory of shirt, and when I asked her who he was, she proudly stated it was Sgt Josh Kirk, her late husband. I fumbled over my condolences and thanked her and her daughter for what they have given up for the rest of us.
    A few days passed when I got the message from Russ that he had dropped an app to carry a stone during his 10th consecutive Maine Marathon. I had been toying with the idea, but didn’t know if it fit with what TSP was doing. Since he reached out, I figure why not make it two.
    Maj Cote picked stones for Russ and I to carry, Cpt Ben Keating for him and Sgt Joshua Kirk for me, and informed us that they were tied together, go figure out how. Russ and I had an inspiring few days of independent research into our soldiers.
    I watched Megan’s video probably 10 times, and read Josh’s bio on TSP over and over. I ordered The Outpost – a rich and detailed telling of the remote post in Afganasthan where both of our soldiers, 3 years apart lost their lives defending my freedom. I scoured the web and ended up talking with Megan online. I wanted to let her know that I was going to be running with his name in my pack, and his story in my heart. Amused that we had already crossed paths, it turns out that she was running as well as a warm up to the Maine Marathon. So strong. I was, and am, grateful for the opportunity to run not just for Josh, but for Megan, and for Kensington their daughter.
    The morning of the race I met with Russ at 5ish. He had picked the stones up from the Augusta armory where they were delivered by the Patriot Riders from Cadillac Mt. I carefully wrapped Josh’s stone back in it’s bag, wrapped that in an ACU sleeve (leftover from the kilt I was again wearing), and wrapped that in Ol’ Glory. Sir, you are riding safe today. Russ and I prayed for strength and to carry the stones with dignity and honor, and to hold the family of our soldiers in God’s loving hands. Prayer is an important part of our running, and this day would be no exception.
    I ran into Megan pre-race after separating from Russ and my family. I carefully unwrapped the stone so we could pose for a quick picture taken by mom, then carefully wrapped it back up. As the star spangled banner carried through the air, I presented arms as I had been taught a lifetime ago. The cannon let loose, and we were moving.
    I can’t tell how many times I told the story during the race of what I was doing with TSP. I know a number of people were just looking to say a quick comment about my kilt and then be off, but I like to seize those opportunities. I hope I inspired at least one person to look into TSP as we ran. I knew it was not a race for time for me. I was not well trained, had a couple extra pounds, and was more focused on my pack than the swiftness of my feet.
    I saw Russ heading long shortly after I had turned around for the half. Confident enough in our relationship with God, our wives, and our place that day, we gave a not-uncommon Love You Brother and we kept on rolling. Somehow Megan saw me shortly after and we wished each other the best as well.
    By that point I was definitely starting to drag. I didn’t have a bounce in my step, my pack rubbed my neck, and I missed my wife at the cheering point. Inward I go. For the remainder of the race I tried to focus on Josh. The stories I read of him I replayed in my mind. The lines his fellow soldiers said “I would follow him to Hell if he thought it was a good idea” repeated over and over. I imagined the weight he carried, and laughed at my own. I imagined the conditions he endured, and I looked around at the (finally) beautiful Maine morning. I thought about Megan and especially about Kensington. I prayed that Josh’s name will be carried on through them, and that they feel God’s sorrow for their loss.
    I stopped with a bit less than half a mile left in the race to pull the stone from my pack. I can only imagine what I looked like on wobbly legs throwing my shirt and jacket to the ground to insure the flag and stone remained clean. I repacked, resecured, and resumed, this time carrying the stone in hand. I carried it initials out. The weight seemed disproportionate to the size, and I think it was more than stone that I was holding.
    When I had crossed the line I was holding back tears. I was happy, remorseful, disappointed, and humbled. I found a quite peace of grass and thanked the Lord for sustaining me that morning. I prayed that he be with Russ and Megan as they continued on. I prayed that the ARNG that carried the rest of the stones would finish with strength, and be welcomed across the finish line under the applause all soldiers deserve.
    The story keeps going. I am lucky enough that I could return the stone. Megan and Kensington have to carry it every day. I want to thank everyone for the opportunity to be a part of this project. I have shared this story and what it has meant to me to anyone who would listen. In His name I pray for all involved in the TSP. This has been an honor to run for and with Josh. Amen.

  11. says

    It was a distinct honor and privilege for me to carry Joshua’s stone on October 4 for the TSP at ANP event. Megan’s video testimonal and his mother’s comments painted an evocative picture of a bright, resourceful, humorous, and compassionate man.

    Having just returned from New York for the Tunnels to Towers 5K, I wore my new, “FDNY” hat on the hike in honor of Josh’s frequently wearing a Yankees hat in New England. Hiking with Josh’s stone on October 4 was particularly significant, as it landed so close to the fifth anniversary of his death. Having lost my mother seven years ago, I know how anniversaries can bring up a range of emotions. So, I thought often along the hike about Josh’s family and loved ones and what they may be experiencing, as they marked the fifth year of his loss.

    I also thought about how much Josh would have enjoyed being part of TSP. His mother had mentioned an Outward Bound wilderness trip Josh took when he was 19, that cemented his love of the outdoors and rock-climbing. As we scrambled up the face of Cadillac, I’m sure he would have been leading the way with enthusiasm!

    It was especially powerful for me to hike with two Gold Star families on October 4. We talk a lot about the courage and bravery of our men and women in uniform – which is well-deserved – but I’ve been profoundly influenced by the grace and courage exemplified by the Gold Star families involved in The Summit Project.

    Others in this forum have mentioned that we carry the stones one day, but the families of the fallen carry the stones every day. Their willingness to allow us to share in their husband/son/brother’s life is an incredible act of bravery and love. One of the most heartbreakingly profound moments of TSP was when I handed Josh’s stone to Mrs. Zimmerman. She mentioned how much she enjoyed reading these comments because “we don’t get new things from James anymore”.

    I’m eternally grateful to the Kirk family for allowing me to be part of their remembrance of Josh and to be able to pay tribute to him. This experience will stay with me for the rest of my life and I hope to return to carry his stone again.

  12. Adrian Holmes says

    Dear family of Joshua Kirk,
    I am sorry for your loss of your loved one. His spirit will always be with us. When I carried his stone up the mountain, I felt like his spirit was with me. The mountain was hard for me to climb the long way around, but Joshua’s sacrifice was hard for you. We all appreciate what Joshua did for our country. I spoke about Joshua at the top of the mountain. I talked about his stone and where it came from. I saluted him at the top of the mountain for his sacrifice to protect us. I will always salute the Army and United States forces that have died at war.
    Adrian Robert Holmes

  13. Renee Giguere says

    Hi I’m Renee, I’m a student at Edward Little High School. I had the honor to carry your husbands memorial stone up Bradbury mountain on November 14. Thank you for letting us take your husbands stone on our snowy wet journey up the mountain.

    When my teacher first told us about the summit project I got excited to have the honor to be able to carry the stone of a fallen hero up Bradbury mountain. To be able to show my respect to Joshua for sacrificing everything for our country, his men, and mostly for his family. Thank you so much for letting my class mates and I learn about your husband it was a great honor.
    Renee Giguere

  14. Kaily says

    Hi, my name is Kaily and I am a student at Edward Little High School. I had the honor to carry Joshua’s stone up Bradbury mountain. It was an amazing experience to be able to learn about Joshua and his story. I am so greatful I was able to take the day and honor him for his service and sacrifice, I could never thank him enough. Thank you for the opertunity of carrying his stone and allowing my class and I to honor him.

    Kaily Baril

  15. says

    On 20 December, 2014, Ted “Gunny” Coffin wrote —

    I had the pleasure of hiking with Army Sgt. Joshua J. Kirk on 20 December 2014. This was to be one of my first solo winter hikes.

    I was at the trail head of Old Speck Mountain in Grafton Notch at sunrise. I got my gear situated and placed Josh’s stone in my pack. The trail starts off easy and very quickly gets steep. When I found myself taking a quick break for a few breaths I realized this was not a solo hike. I had Josh with me. It was at this point when I removed his Stone from my pack and hand carried him for the remainder of the hike.

    The trails were beautiful and covered with fresh snow. The sound of a snow covered mountain is indescribable and inspiring. There were also many trees that blocked the trail, being under the weight of heavy, wet, and frozen snow. These became obstacles that Josh would help me with. I could hear him as if he were there with me. Telling me, “go under this one”, or “no, silly, go over and around that one.” I also found him giving me advice that I would typically not pay attention to, “Hey Ted, you’re starting to overheat, change you’re layers out, we’re out here alone, be safe and smart.”

    We talked a lot as we were hiking. I made more of a connection with Josh and his Stone than I have on many other hikes. I thought and talked to him about his mountaineering adventures and how his time in Outward Bound helped him with hiking skills and everyday life.

    By the time we reached an amazing viewpoint and what I would call a false summit, my base layer of clothing was wet from perspiration and from the snow. I wanted to push on to the actual summit, but again, there was the voice of Josh, “you only have one base layer left, there is another 1.5 miles to the summit. Let’s be smart about this, we can tackle this summit again later, today is not the day.”

    I quickly changed into dry clothes and put on warm jacket. I spent a few minutes with Josh, taking in this false summit, and all of it’s gorgeous views. I then stood with josh in my hands and told all of the mountains within eyesight about Army Sgt. Joshua J Kirk. I told them about how he lived, how he died, and how much he had meant to those in his life, and about how much he meant to me now.

    We pushed back down the mountain and continued our talks. I kept Josh close at hand for the remainder of the weekend. We even made a stop at a book store to pick up the book mentioned by his mother. I had the opportunity to discuss Josh and his sacrifice to one of the sales associates when they inquired about the Stone I was carrying. I was very proud to have one of Maine’s Heroes with me in the store.

    I know Josh is greatly missed, but please know that he, his service, his sacrifice, and his families sacrifice is not forgotten.

    Thanks for the hiking tips, Josh.

  16. Heather L. McGlauflin says

    What a beautiful tribute to end 2014. It sounds like an amazing day that will be cherished forever. – MHANF

  17. Kristina Sabasteanski says

    To the family of Joshua Kirk,

    I had the honor of carrying the stone in memory of Joshua Kirk during TSP USM March on March, 6, 2015. Our 6 mile march through Portland took place on a sunny but cold winter morning. Although cold, it’s the kind of crisp winter day I love. From what I learned about Josh and his experiences in Outward Bound, I believe he would have also enjoyed to be walking outside on a day like that. Although I never knew Josh personally, I understand he was referred to as “the best of the best” in terms of his ability as a soldier. He was also a devoted family man to his young family and did his best to show how much he thought of them during his deployments. Megan seemed to radiate strength and dignity in her interview about Josh and I admire her for that.

    I wanted to participate in this TSP march because I understand the sacrifices and impact on the families of a fallen soldier. I too have lost a brother and a brother in law, both Marines, in deaths related to service. I thought about Josh’s family and their sacrifice as I walked. As I was surrounded by others carrying stones in honor of other fallen soldiers, it made me reflect on all the brave souls whose lives have also been sacrificed in order for us to live free. As a Veteran myself, I feel an obligation to remember the fallen; to help those who return from combat with injuries and battle scars; and to cherish the camaraderie of fellow Veterans who also chose to serve their country.

    With Sincere Gratitude,
    Kristina Sabasteanski

  18. Rob Johnson says

    Regardless of the politics surrounding the war, I think the men who served at COP Keating and OP Fritsche are nothing short of true heroes. That word is bandied about way too often, but in this case, there is no other word to me that encapsulates their bravery. These were mostly ordinary, small-town sons, fathers, husbands, and brothers who when faced with unimaginable odds, harnessed something deep within themselves to support each other and the mission. We owe them and their families a debt that can never be repaid.

  19. Emily Gross says

    Hello, My name is Emily Gross it was an honor to carry the memorial stone in memory of SGT. Joshua Kirk. SGT Kirk was a american native of Thomaston Maine. SGT Kirk was killed in action during his second tour in Afghanistan, Leaving behind a loving wife Megan and their daughter Kensington.
    Though the hike was tough for me it was more than worth it. The weather was nice and warm with a cool breeze. Mount Bigelow was extremely beautiful. It was not an easy climb for me because I am not in shape. Also I did not know what to expect because I have never hiked up a Mountain before. So with that said I thought that i wasn’t going to be able to make it, But with a great support group from my fellow cadets I pushed through the pain and made it. I felt good about myself for being able to push myself to my limits for SGT Kirk. I knew that i couldn’t quit because SGT Kirk didn’t quit when he got tired. I was definitely inspired by SGT Kirk to make it to the top. I was also proud of myself to have been able to hike Mount Bigelow for SGT Joshua J. Kirk and the whole Kirk family.

  20. says

    Dear Megan and family,

    My name is Tony Llerena and on Sunday, May 24th, 2015, I had the distinct honor of carrying SGT Joshua J. Kirk’s memorial stone up the Owl Mountain in Baxter State Park. Megan, you handed me his stone the night before the hike and I wanted to make sure that no one was left behind, no matter what. Josh’s stone was one of two I carried. I stayed up late into the night learning about Josh and hearing the wonderful stories you shared about him. I only wish I had more time to know him better for the hike itself.

    From what I read, he was a great and thoughtful man, even if he was a Yankees fan. In all seriousness, Joshua was a wonderfully loving and thoughtful husband. I enjoyed hearing about his persistence in pursuing Megan’s hand in marriage, something I know a thing or two about, and also instilling Kensington with a love of reading. As a leader of men, I can’t get over his fellow soldiers saying they “would follow him to Hell if he thought it was a good idea.” That would be a sight to see! While the hike itself was moderately challenging, the ceremony at the summit was powerful and emotional. I thought about the little things that Josh did to let everyone know how much he cared. Joshua set a standard that, as a husband, son, father, leader, I aspire to achieve. Thank you for sharing your memories of him with me. Joshua is a hero I will never forget.

    Sincerely and Respectfully,
    Tony Llerena

  21. Allmuth Perzel says

    On July 18th I carried SGT Joshua J Kirk memorial stone around the summit of Mt Washington. The weather was bad with no visibility. It was a special moment to have my picture taken with a person who died for us so we can have a better life. I also hiked the memorial stone on sunny days to 3 other smaller mountains. It was important to me to honor this brave soldier with the respect he deserves. I always feel that nature has a healing force.
    Best wishes to the family,
    Allmuth Perzel

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