• 43°

Grenade attack in Iraq kills ex-Chamberlain-Hunt officer

Chamberlain-Hunt Academy sergeants, members of the Port Gibson school’s color guard, raise the American flag to half-staff this morning in memory of former CHA tactical officer Joshua Ladd, who was killed in Iraq. (Meredith SpencerThe Vicksburg Post)

[05/04/04] PORT GIBSON Chamberlain-Hunt Academy students know today that war is real. One of their own has paid the ultimate price.

Sgt. Joshua Ladd, who was 20 and from Philadelphia, Miss., was killed outside Mosul when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle, a Mississippi National Guard spokesman said Monday.

Before deployment overseas, Ladd had worked as a tactical officer, an officer who lives with and supervises boarding students in the school’s dormitories, at the private boarding and day school here.

Ladd came to CHA after completing basic training with the Army National Guard and had plans to complete requirements for a college degree and pursue a career as a military officer, said school business manager Tracy Kimmel.

“He had a strong desire to serve,” Kimmel said of Ladd’s participation in the Guard. “He enjoyed the drill weekends.”

A boarding cadet who was under Ladd’s supervision at times during the last year, junior Matthew Duren of Vicksburg, remembered Ladd as a supervisor who was friendly but committed to firm discipline.

“He was a very driven guy, very motivated,” Duren said. “The military was what he wanted to do and what he did.”

Ladd had a “huge influence” on many of the school’s cadets, Duren added.

“He helped influence one of the other cadets to join the National Guard,” Duren said. “He had a positive effect on the atmosphere of the school.”

Officers in the position Ladd held can be as important to boarding students’ education as teachers, if not more in some cases, Kimmel said.

“The tac officer is a vital part of the school,” she said, adding that such officers are often role models and spiritual leaders for their students.

Tactical officers live in the dormitories and supervise virtually all of the cadets’ non-classroom activities, including intramural sports, meals, cleanup duties and study halls. CHA is a Christian military school for boys as boarding and day students and for girls as day students.

About 160 students total are enrolled.

Ladd was serving in Iraq with the 367th Maintenance Company of the Army National Guard. He had volunteered for service with that unit soon after it was mobilized last year.

Previously, he had been with the 298th Corps Support Battalion.

Ladd’s death brought the state’s total number of war dead to 14.

Army Staff Sgt. Jeff Dayton, who was 20 and from Columbus, was also killed Saturday, military officials reported Sunday.

His father said he and seven other soldiers with the 1st Armored Division died in a car-bombing south of Baghdad.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.