News: Vanguard first sergeant confirms faith during Ramadan
Story by Sgt. Bob Yarbrough
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army 1st Sgt. David Joshua, the first sergeant for Company A, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and a native of Sacramento, Calif., is part of a small percentage of Muslims in the U.S. Army.
Joseph has been in the Army for 23 years, and has been with the 703rd BSB since October 2012.
Joshua was born in Philadelphia, to a Muslim father and a Baptist mother. When Joshua was very young, his parents separated and he moved to Sacramento. Calif., with his mom.
Growing up he spent summers with his dad, who was a practicing Muslim. “He would talk to us about it, but never really forced us into it,” said Joshua, remembering when he and his sister would visit. “He really only had one rule about it, he asked us not to eat pork when we came over.”
About four years after joining the Army, Joshua became interested in Islam.
He started going to the mosque on Fort Bragg, N.C. He became close with the Muslim community in the area, and accepted Islam as his faith. “I guess you could say my dad inspired it, and I started looking into it, and started practicing,” he said.
Joshua’s wife and kids do not practice Islam. “That’s one thing about any religion,” he said. “You never want to force anyone into it. Just live that life, and then hopefully, if that’s the way they want to go, you know it’s from the heart.”
According to Joshua, the most difficult part of being Muslim in the Army is during Ramadan, when even fasting soldiers must remain physically fit.
“The hardest part is staying hydrated,” he said. “I’m training for a marathon, so this month, I have to kind of scale it down, not go as hard as I would if I wasn’t fasting, but I still maintain.”
“He’s a good first sergeant,” said U.S. Army Capt. Alan Sawyer, a Columbus, Ga., native, and the commander for Company A. “He’s respectful and does the right thing, sets the standards for everybody.”
At first, Sawyer was a bit concerned for Joshua’s health during Ramadan. “I would tell him that he needs to stop working out during the day, but every day at lunch time, he gets out and goes to the gym,” said Sawyer. However, Joseph didn’t seem any different, despite the changes to his daily routine. “He’s been doing this for a long time, so I figure he knows what he’s doing.”
Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims, in which they don’t eat, drink, or smoke during daylight hours, and is intended as a period of reflection, guidance, and spiritual connection, so they remember to be thankful, and praise Allah. It is considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam, and during this month, Muslims spend more time offering Salat, or prayers, and reciting the Quran.