A soldier from Booneville died in combat Friday in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense said Sunday.
Spc. Joseph A. Richardson, 23, was killed in the Paktika province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Richardson was posthumously promoted to sergeant after his death, according to his military unit's Facebook page.
The Department of Defense said Richardson and another soldier died from wounds sustained from small arms fire and an improvised explosive device.
Booneville High School guidance counselor Ginger Ulmer said Richardson expressed interest in joining the Army as a sophomore. When she told him he couldn't take the entrance exam until his junior year, Richardson told her to sign him up for next year's test.
"He was just ready to do it," said Ulmer. "He felt like it was going to be an honor to serve his country. He wanted to do it."
The soldier's agricultural education teacher, James Tanner, said in high school Richardson was an active F.F.A. member and volunteered his time to distribute food to those in need during the holidays.
"He was fun to be around," said Tanner. "He was dependable. You could count on him to come help out and work with us when we needed him."
"Joe was just a good all-around kid," said Karen Halford who works in the library at Booneville High School. "You could see that he was just so nice to everyone, and he loved what he did. He loved the military."
"Specialist Joseph A. Richardson was a true American hero - giving his life in service to our great country," said U.S. Representative Mike Ross in a released statement. "His bravery, dedication and patriotism exemplified what it means to be an American soldier, and I am eternally grateful for his selfless sacrifice. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, parents and the rest of his many family and friends during this very difficult time."
Richardson's wife lives in Manhattan, Kan., while his mother lives in Dakota City, Iowa, and his dad in Gilmore City, Iowa. Richardson and the other soldier were with the 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division based in Fort Riley, Kan.