Fallen soldier from Applegate to be honored with Tahoe National Forest trail dedication

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Applegate’s Joshua Hardt died last October serving his country in Afghanistan. Back home, he had loved the Sierra outdoors. On Memorial Day, his country will remember his sacrifice – and his kinship with nature – when a foot trail in the Tahoe National Forest will be named for him. U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, will join Forest Service officials and the late Army sergeant’s friends and family for a ceremony dedicating the trail in the Sugar Pine Reservoir campground area. Hardt was serving with the U.S. Army’s 4th Infantry Division when enemy forces ambushed his outpost in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nuristan with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. He was one of eight soldiers to be killed in fierce fighting. Hardt, an avid outdoorsman and all-star football player while at Placer High School, was 24. The Bronze Star recipient was honored this past fall when Placer High School presented a framed No. 13 Placer jersey to his wife, Olivia, before the school’s football homecoming game. Hardt graduated from Placer in 2004 and joined the Army four years ago. At the time of his death he was serving with the 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo. Ann Westling, Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman, said forest officials are attempting to keep Monday’s event low-key because of the lack of parking and narrow roadways near the trail. About 45 family members and friends are already expected to attend and they’re being encouraged to carpool, she said. The trail itself is partly completed and when finished, will run around the Sugar Pine Reservoir, Westling said. The dedication of a memorial trail is something new for the Tahoe National Forest, Westling said. The park does have several picnic tables and benches placed in memory of others, she said. And the Forest Service has a Penny Pines Program with the National Garden Club that recognizes contributions to restore fire-damaged forests, she said. The decision to dedicate a trail in Hardt’s memory was based on a combination of his sacrifice for his country and the fact he was an avid outdoorsman who loved being in the National Forest, Westling said. McClintock’s participation will be at least the second time he has honored Hardt. In mid-October, the congressman spoke about Hardt in a tribute on the floor of the House. The Foresthill visit is one of three Memorial Day ceremonies McClintock will attend, with earlier stops in Grass Valley and Roseville. In the House, McClintock described Hardt’s heroic efforts in a pitched battle. “He is one of the fallen heroes of the Battle of Kamdesh – the remote outpost that was besieged and surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered by more than 300 Taliban insurgents on Oct. 3,” he said. “No soldiers in the history of our nation have fought more valiantly than the defenders of Combat Outpost Keating that day. In the end, they held their ground, they defended their flag and honor of their country.”