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Joshua Casteel
Birth name Joshua Eric Casteel
Born (1979-12-27)27 December 1979
Died 25 August 2012(2012-08-25) (aged 32)
Place of birth Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Place of death New York, New York
Place of burial Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 2002–2005
Battles/wars Iraq War

Joshua Casteel (27 December 1979 – 25 August 2012) was a United States Army soldier, conscientious objector, playwright, and divinity student.[1][2][3] He was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in a Christian Evangelical family.[1][2][4]

Casteel won an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point but dropped out in his first term there.[1] He enlisted in the Army in May 2002 and was trained as an interrogator at Fort Huachuca and in the Arabic language at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA.[1] Casteel served with the Army's 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion as an interrogator at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and claimed to have conducted over 130 prisoner interrogations.[1][5] His unit arrived in Iraq in 2004, six weeks after revelation of prisoner abuses by US personnel at the prison.[1] The Army approved his application for conscientious objector and granted him an honorable discharge in 2005.[1]

Casteel graduated from the University of Iowa in 2008 with a dual Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting and non-fiction writing.[4] He was an active member of Iraq Veterans Against the War and the author of several plays performed in the US and abroad, including Returns and The Interrogation Room.[1][2] As a public speaker on religious and political matters, Casteel addressed audiences in the US, Ireland, Sweden, Italy and the UK.[1] He was featured in the documentary films Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers and Soldiers of Conscience.[2] In 2008, excerpts of Casteel's emails from Iraq were published in Harper's Magazine and in book form by Essay Press.[1][6] He died of lung cancer in New York City in New York-Presbyterian Hospital on August 25, 2012.[2][7] An oncologist told Casteel's mother that "Joshua died of lung cancer without having any of the conventional risk factors such as smoking, asbestos exposure or radiation ... I am quite sure we did not have anyone younger with lung cancer those five years I worked at the VA."[8] Casteel's family believes his cancer was the result of exposure to toxins released by a burn pit he slept near for six months in Iraq.[8] He was a University of Chicago Divinity School graduate student at the time of his death.[2]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Casteel, Joshua. Letters from Abu Ghraib. (Ithaca, NY: Essay Pr., 2008). ISBN 978-0-9791189-3-7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Allen, Susie. "Divinity School student Joshua Casteel, 1979-2012". UChicagoNews. 18 September 2012. Accessed 21 June 2013.
  3. Latchis, Rebekah. "The Big 3-2!". Joshuacasteel.com. 16 December 2011. Accessed 14 August 2013.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Obituaries: Casteel, Joshua Eric". The Gazette. 02 September 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.
  5. Lindsey, T. M. "A conscientious objector's journey". The Iowa Independent. 03 September 2008. Accessed 14 August 2013.
  6. Casteel, Joshua. "The Monk of Abu Ghraib". Harper's Magazine. Vol. 317, No. 1901. 01 October 2008. p. 22.
  7. Erin Jordan. "Cedar Rapids family blames burn pit in Iraq for son's cancer death". The Gazette. 26 October 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Erin Jordan. "Cedar Rapids family links ex-soldier’s death to burn pit". The Gazette. 28 October 2012. Accessed 14 August 2013.

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