Justin J. Duffy was a sergeant in the United States Army, who was tragically killed in the Iraq War.1 Duffy was born in Moline, Illinois on June 14th, 1977.2 He and his family then moved to Nebraska when he was in sixth grade. Duffy attended Seton Catholic High School as a child, and practiced Catholicism. Duffy went to college and earned a degree in criminal justice. Justin also had an extremely close bond with his brother-in-law, who was on the police force. Duffy was seen many times going on ride-alongs with his brother-in-law. Duffy was described in a positive light by everyone he was around. His father described him as “Having a knack for easing tensions between others.” His brother-in-law told stories about him being given the nickname “The Shepard” because of his ability to ease tensions between others, and how he always cared for others above himself.
He joined the United States Army, and was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division.3 The 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division (also called the Panthers) have been a battalion since World War II. Since World War II regimental affiliations have been re-designated into different battalions. In 2006, the 82nd Airborne moved to modular brigade combat teams. In July 2006, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team was deployed to Iraq for a 15 month tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In May of 2008, the unit was scheduled to rotate to Iraq as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Justin Duffy’s team was tasked with security for military personnel in the area. Duffy stayed true to his “Shepard” ways. He constantly asked his family to send care packages of toys, and candy so he could share them with the Iraqi kids in the area.
On June 2nd, 2009 Duffy was driving him and his team in a Humvee when they ran over an improvised explosive device (IED).4 IEDs were a common weapon the enemy used in the Iraq War. These devices would be hidden in the ground, or by trash. When something went over it, the device would trigger an explosion. Sadly, Duffy did not survive the IED explosion. Duffy was sent to Moline where a group called the Patriot Guard Riders escorted him to his funeral and final resting place in the Rock Island Arsenal in Rock Island, Illinois. Duffy was awarded several medals for his efforts in the Iraq War. He was awarded the Commendation Medal, a Bronze Star Medal, and he is also a Purple Heart Recipient.5
4 National Archives Veterans’ Service Records