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A patriotic procession

Soldier’s funeral motorcade draws supporters
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn residents scattered around Highway 49 sidewalks and corners to pay their respects to a young solider. Thursday afternoon a funeral procession of about 30 cars and motorcycles traveled from McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento to Parkside Church of the Nazarene in Auburn. The procession was for Army Sgt. Joshua Hardt, a 24-year-old Applegate man and 2004 Placer High School graduate who was killed Oct. 3 in combat. Hardt and eight other U.S. soldiers died in one of the single deadliest attacks in Afghanistan after they were ambushed by hundreds of insurgents in eastern Nuristan province. On Thursday several Auburn residents and military veterans stood holding American flags in hand as the procession traveled down Highway 49. Some took off their hats and bowed their heads as the line of cars passed by while others held their hand over their heart. “It’s the right thing to do,” said Steve Laskey, a retired master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy. “It’s the least you can do for the young men who give their lives for us.” Laskey was standing at the corner of Highway 49 and Dry Creek Road where the procession took a turn to head toward the church. His wife, Toni, accompanied him. She was wearing a blue sweatshirt with “Home of the free because of the brave” and described herself as a “real patriotic person.” “If nothing else people should be out here to give back,” Toni Laskey said. Auburn residents James and Donna McCloskey were standing nearby. Donna McCloskey held onto to a small American flag she brought to wave as the motorcade drove by. “I think it’s really important for the community to show their support for the family,” Donna McCloskey said. Donna McCloskey said news of the young soldier’s death has hit an emotional place in her heart. “I don’t know why it’s getting to me, but I guess because it’s a small town and it’s one of our own,” Donna McCloskey said. When the procession ended at the church, a group of about 20 men from the Patriot Guard Riders, the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club and the Christian Motorcycle Association held American flags over a pathway into the church. A small crowd gathered off to the side with many supporters silently holding American flags. Hardt’s family gathered on the opposite side with Army personnel nearby. As bagpipe music filled the air, six members of the Honor Guard carried Hardt’s wooden casket, draped under an American flag, into the building. Karly Sipherd, a fellow 2004 Placer High graduate, said she remembered the soldier as someone who could make anyone feel like they were his friend – a guy with a big heart. “His last name was really perfect for him,” Sipherd said. Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- A celebration of Army Sgt. Joshua Hardt’s life will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 16, at Parkside Church of the Nazarene, 3885 Richardson Drive, Auburn. Friends and family are invited to attend. A private burial service will be held Saturday at the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery. Condolences may be sent to the family at P.O. Box 802, Applegate, CA 95703. Remembrances may be made in Hardt’s name to: Wounded Warriors Family Support (www.woundedwarriorsfamilysupport.org), Blue Star Mothers of America, Inc. (ww.bluestarmothers.org), and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (www.taps.org). Flowers may be sent to Parkside Church of the Nazarene in Auburn. ----------