Before he left on his deployment to Afghanistan, Army Spc. Joseph P. Collette left a bit of himself behind.
Collette — the 29-year-old explosive ordnance technician who was one of two soldiers killed in combat there on Friday — wrote “about 30 love letters” to his new wife Caela, hiding them in their home for her to discover during his time away.
“[He] hid them in random places around the house for me to find, which I found most of them,” Caela Collette told Stars and Stripes on the Saturday after his death. “So last night, it was really comforting sitting down, reading through those, because it's almost like he was preparing for this exact scenario.”
Collette, a Lancaster, Ohio native assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group at Fort Carson, Colorado, had married the December before his first overseas deployment to Afghanistan.
“He told me that as soon as 9/11 happened when we were kids he knew right then that he wanted to join the Army,” his wife told Stars and Stripes. “He was getting out of the Army in February next year and had never been on deployment. He wanted to go on deployment badly.”
Collette and Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay died from wounds sustained while engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan's Kunduz Province, the Pentagon said in a statement on Saturday.
They are the third and fourth service members killed in combat operations in Afghanistan this year.