Panhandle mourns loss of area native in Midland train accident - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Panhandle mourns loss of area native in Midland train accident

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Army Sgt. Joshua Michael Army Sgt. Joshua Michael

One of the veterans killed in the tragic train accident in Midland on Thursday was a man born and raised right here in the Texas Panhandle, a Hereford native.

Army Sgt. Joshua Michael was only 34 years old when he had his life cut short Thursday. But according to some of his closest family friends, he won't be remembered by the tragic accident, but instead by the way he lived his life even during his last moments on earth.

From early on, Army Sgt.. Joshua Michael, better known as just Josh to his friends, captured the hearts of those who knew him.

"He even rode with me sometimes you know when he was growing up whenever I was a police officer," said former Hereford Police Chief David Wager who worked with Josh's father for more than 30 years. "He liked to play jokes, he was funny, he was cute."

Even as he grew, his desire to help others was always apparent.

"Shortly after he graduated high school, he completed his EMT training and came to work for me," said one of Josh's former bosses in Hereford, Terry Hazlett. "Of course, I'd known him growing up and stuff like that."

Josh met his wife Daylyn while attending Amarillo College. They were married in 1997, and he enlisted in the Army in 2001. Even when injured during his two tours to Iraq, and enduring the news of his wife being diagnosed with cancer, friends say, he never failed to put others first.

"Just a good, overall family-oriented guy and then after he got married and had his own family that just grew even more," added Hazlett.

"They loved each other immensely," added Aimee Rogers of Lubbock, who became close friends with the couple while in college. "They've been through a lot together and through everything their top priority was each other."

That characteristic persisted in Josh, right down to the very moment he died, when he pushed his wife out of the way of the train that took his life. A split second choice that his friends believe, for Josh, was never even a choice.

"That's just like Josh," said Wagner. "And probably Josh was trying to save other lives."

"Him saving somebody else before himself doesn't surprise me one bit," added Hazlett.

"Those actions by Josh are actually not that shocking for those of us who know and love him and know that he would lay down his life for anybody that he loved," continued Rogers. "But most especially for that woman."

Making Army Sgt.. Joshua Michael a true hero, on -- and off -- the battlefield.

"The heart of a warrior and the heart of a veterans and that's what they do," said Rogers. "They put others above themselves and that is Josh to a T."

A Prayer Vigil has been scheduled in honor of Army Sgt.. Joshua Michael and the three other veterans who lost their lives in the accident. That will take place Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock at the Panhandle War Memorial in Amarillo.