Unit: 75th Ranger Regiment, 3rd Battalion
Home Town: Plano, TX
Died On: 10/03/1993
Sgt. James Casey Joyce was a man who could be counted on once he had committed himself to a project. Speaking of her son's leadership qualities, his mother, Gail Joyce, remembers "his ability to focus on something and to be completely committed to a cause or an idea; and once he made that commitment, he never wavered."
Nowhere was this trait more apparent than in his military career. After spending three years in two different colleges, changing his major a couple of times in the process, Casey Joyce enlisted in the Army in November 1990.
"He wanted to go into the Army to get some focus and some maturity," says his father, retired Lt. Col. Larry Joyce. His father's military background "absolutely" influenced Casey Joyce's decision to enlist, says Larry Joyce. "He wanted to prove something to himself and to me."
Determined to excel, Casey Joyce "chose probably the most difficult and challenging assignment he could," says Larry Joyce. He volunteered for service in the 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga. "I don't think I could have done what he did," the father said during his eulogy at the October 9 memorial service in Casey Joyce's native Plano, Texas.
The extent to which Casey Joyce steeped himself in the values of the Ranger creed can be measured by the awards and decorations he earned in less than three years of service. These included his airborne wings, the Ranger tab, the Pathfinder badge and the Meritorious Service Medal. They are capped by the Bronze Star for valor he was awarded posthumously for his actions on the night of October 3, when he died fighting Somalia guerrillas in the back streets of Mogadishu.
On at least two occasions, Casey Joyce also displayed an uncanny ability to predict the future. An avid Dallas Cowboys fan since boyhood, he had stood by his team during the lean years of the late 1980s. Then, while on leave in the summer of 1992, he went to the team's summer camp in Austin. "He predicted they were going to win the Super Bowl long before anyone else did," says Gail Joyce.
He had made a similarly accurate prediction four years earlier while he was walking through a mall in Plano and saw DeAnna Gray, then a high school senior, standing behind a counter. "He said to his friend, `I'm going to marry that girl,"' says DeAnna Joyce. Roughly 2 1/2 years later, he did exactly that, in the same Plano church in which his memorial service was held.
Seven months after Casey Joyce's death, his widow's voice still chokes with emotion as she remembers talking to him by telephone the night before his death. "We were planning a trip--he asked me if New Orleans was OK," she said.
Hours later, a Somali sniper's bullet killed Casey Joyce and cost his family its most dynamic member. "He was the spice in our life," says his mother.