It is with much respect and admiration that the Ludlow Public Schools dedicates this webpage in honor of one of Ludlow’s finest, and a true hero, Sgt. Joshua D. Desforges, U.S.M.C. Josh was raised and educated in Ludlow, graduating from Ludlow High School in 2004. He was killed at the age of 23, on May 10, 2010, supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, while living his dream of being a proud member of the United States Marine Corps.
Josh's mother remembers that from the age of five, Josh participated in several local sports teams including hockey, baseball, soccer, football and basketball. At home she remembers his version of hide and seek: dressing in camouflage, hiding in the woods, and asking his parents to find him. She tells the story of Josh making his own ghillie suit out of cammies with shredded camouflage material glued to them. It was during this time that his family saw Josh’s dream of joining the United States Marine Corps begin to blossom.
According to his parents, Josh was a bright student, who was not always highly motivated when it came to academics. He did however understand the importance an education and although at times he found school challenging, Josh knew that to achieve his ultimate dream he would need to keep the doors of learning open and make every obstacle an opportunity. Mabel Madsen, Josh’s 1st grade teacher at East Street School, remembers Josh as “a sweet boy who loved learning, had a fun sense of humor and always got along with his classmates.” Mrs. Madsen went on to say that she “so enjoyed having Josh in class” and “will always remember his sense of wonder and curiosity”. His 11th grade World History teacher, Brian Bylicki, echoed those sentiments when he stated, “Josh was a curious student who was interested in learning about various places and people in the world.”
As a young teen Josh found a love for playing paintball and experimenting with the thrill of riding dirt bikes and snowboarding. At night when other students his age were watching MTV, Josh was watching the History Channel and often would listen to Marine Corps cadences when he went to bed. Mrs. Desforges states that when Josh joined the Westover Young Marines program at the age of 13, “he found his niche”. According to her the Young Marines opened many doors for Josh. He attended countless Leadership Schools, went to Gettysburg, was invited on a Veteran Reunion Tour of Iwo Jima, and so much more. It was during these years that Josh developed his leadership skills and love of the outdoors, while at the same time learning the importance of discipline, self-confidence, honesty, respect and the importance of family and friends. All skills that would play an important role in his future career as a United States Marine.
Josh graduated from Ludlow High School in 2004, enlisting in the United States Marine Corps that September, attending boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina. Josh attended the School of Infantry and was a member of the Close Quarters Battle Team, being promoted to the rank of Sergeant on January 1, 2008. He was midway through his second tour as a squad leader assigned to Afghanistan with the 1st Battalion 6th Marines out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, having been deployed there in December 2009. His first deployment was from March 2008-September 2008.
During his time in the Marine Corps, Josh was a Pistol Sharpshooter and a Second Award Rifle Expert. He received the Combat Action Ribbon with one Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one Bronze Star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, and NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan. Josh was an outstanding Marine, ultimately earning the prestigious Purple Heart Medal for sacrificing his life while serving his country. In addition to all of these resplendent accomplishments, during this time Josh also developed a love for playing the guitar, surfing, four wheeling and building Jeeps.
Josh's family proudly supported his dream, taking every step with him along his journey. His parents, Arlene and David, and sister Jenelle cherish the memories of Josh as they watched him accomplish every goal he set along the way--whether that be completing a fitness challenge, improving his score on a math test, nailing a skateboarding trick, or being promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps. Although Josh was a Marine, what truly defined him was his caring nature, his love of life, and his dedication and love for his family and friends. Those who were close to Josh say he exemplified the Marine Corps motto “Semper Fidelis,” which is Latin for “always faithful.”
At the time of his death on May 10, 2010, Sgt. Desforges was 23 years old and a 6-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps. According to a statement issued by the 2nd Division Office of Public Affairs, Josh died “as a result of a hostile incident while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan."
Sgt. Joshua D. Desforges made the ultimate sacrifice for his country. He will forever be a hometown hero and a role model to the Ludlow community.