A Community Prepares to Remember Josh Ladd

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Flags fly at half-staff as a community and a school mourns a fallen soldier and a former student.

"I can't imagine how his family must feel, because my family is just devastated. We watched Josh grow up from a very small young man. He was a part of our family," says Janice Johnson, a former math teacher of Ladd.

Janice Johnson is more than a close family friend, she is also a former teacher of Josh Ladd. She remembers him as quiet boy who was well liked, and she can't believe he is gone at a such a young age.

"He was a fine young man, very respectable; he was a little shy but not afraid of a challenge at all," said Johnson.

And he met the ultimate challenge this past weekend when he died from artillery fire in Iraq. He had always planned to enter the military, but as a 2001 graduate from Neshoba Centra,l he spent six years in the band. His former instructors were at a competition when they heard the news.

"We just had to sit down for a while and think about what happened, all these things we worry about seem insignificant when compared what those soldiers in Iraq are doing," said Scott Sullender, Ladd's former Band Director.

The news is still to too raw for his family to speak about it, but these teachers say Ladd's death makes them think twice about the war.

"I think we are doing the right thing, but we are paying a big price for it," said Cary Ethridge.

Josh Ladd joins the more than 700 U.S. men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. And each time it brings the war a world away a little closer to home.

A memorial service will be held for Josh Ladd Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Funeral arrangements are still pending.