Evening Shade residents are mourning the loss of one of their own who gave his life for his country.
Spc. Joshua Samuel Marcum, 33, was killed Jan. 4 in Taji, Iraq, while serving with the National Guard.
"It is still so hard to believe," said Linda Beckham, one of Marcum's three siblings. "He was so good. I guess that's the kind God wants to call home. I guess God wanted a good soldier in Heaven."
Marcum was with Detachment 1, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 153rd Infantry Regiment of Camden.
Marcum, a truck driver for Dowell Transport in Batesville, enlisted in the National Guard during the summer of 2001. He joined to further the opportunities for his children and to support a country he loved, Beckham said. Marcum was sent to Ft. Hood, Texas, for training in January 2004. Weeks later he was sent to Iraq.
"He was very brave," Beckham said. "He wasn't scared. He was ready to go. He wanted to go after 9-11. He felt he needed to go to defend our country. "
Marcum and his wife, Lisa, married in 2003. Together the couple have five children ages 8 to 15.
"He was happier with his life than he had been in years," Beckham said. "He and his wife were made for each other."
Marcum and his wife would communicate by e-mail almost daily, Beckham said.
"Lisa feels cheated. She said she knew the risk but she never dreamed it would happen to Josh," Beckham said.
Marcum, a gunner; Spc. Jimmy Dale Buie of Floral; and Spc. Jeremy Wayne McHalffey of Mabelvale were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their humvee in Taji, said Capt. Kristine Munn with the Arkansas National Guard.
The soldiers were leaving an Iraqi National Guard bunker area when the blast occurred, the Associated Press reported.
The force of the bomb hit near the window of the humvee's front right side and penetrated the vehicle's armor. The humvee rolled forward several hundred feet before it rested against a utility pole at the side of the road, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
The soldiers were part of the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The team consists of approximately 4,200 soldiers from 10 states and is based at Camp Cooke in Taji, Iraq, Munn said. Nearly 2,800 of the team are from Arkansas, she said.
"Freedom is not cheap. It's very expensive," Beckham said. "Josh and the other soldiers will live on forever as our American heroes."
Marcum was born Aug. 27, 1971 in Illinois to Otis Edward and Barbara (Coats) Marcum. He was preceded in death by his father.
Survivors include his wife; his mother, Barbara Marcum of Evening Shade; three sons, David Brannon, Jacob Brannon and Donovan Brannon of Evening Shade; two daughters, Tiffany Marcum and Stephanie Marcum, both of Cave City; two brothers, Jay Marcum of Littleton, Colo., and Ronald Marcum of Chicago, Ill.; three sisters, Dianna Marcum of Evening Shade, Margaret Burris of Hot Springs, and Beckham of Pittsburgh, Texas; several nieces and nephews; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Funeral services will be Jan. 12 at 2 p.m. at the Evening Shade High School gymnasium with Bro. Jerry Brown officiating. Burial will follow in the Spotts Cemetery in Poughkeepsie with arrangements by Qualls Funeral Home of Cave City.