Joel pictured with his two siblings 

Joel pictured with his two siblings 

Role at OSU: Brother of current OSU Student

Survived By: Wife, 2 Siblings, Mother & Father

Date of Loss: 9 June 2010

Accident Type: Downed Aircraft 

Country of Loss: Afghanistan


Joel and his wife the day he deployed.

Joel and his wife the day he deployed.

"These Things I Do, That Others May Live" ends the hallowed creed of the United States Air Force Pararescuemen.

Captain Joel Gentz was a Combat Rescue Officer, a member of an elite group of individuals, whose mission is to recover injured or downed troops from all branches, and provide emergency medical treatment to save lives.

To his younger sister, Rachel Gentz, Joel Gentz was a nerd in high school. He was a member of the marching band, and more specifically the drum line.  He was obsessed with all things related to flight and dreamed of being an astronaut. Joel was also an outdoors-man; enjoying hiking and backpacking with his family and as a Boy Scout. Joel graduated high school in 2002 and with events of 9/11 fresh in his mind, decided he wanted to enlist. His parents convinced him to go to college first and potentially become a military officer. Joel went on to attend Purdue University with an  Air Force ROTC scholarship in hopes of becoming a pilot. Joel was the Cadet Wing Commander at Purdue. He was honored four years running with the Warrior Spirit award, elected by his ROTC class. He was also a member of the Arnold Air Society. He graduated in 2007 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and was accepted to the U.S. Air Force’s pilot training. However, Joel had been exposed to the difficult training of the USAF Pararescue and had a new dream. Joel turned down his chance to fly to become a Combat Rescue Officer, and take on their wholesome mission of saving lives.  He was the first ROTC cadet to be accepted into the training program.

On June 7th, 2008 Joel was married to his wife Kathryn. The pictures of their wedding day are filled with smiles - actually all of Joel's pictures are filled with his humongous smile. His sister Rachel said the military could never take away his sense of humor.

Pararescue training is some of the most rigorous and difficult in the military. Looking back, his sister Rachel remembers Joel doing things "just to see if he could." For example, on a backbacking trip Joel came across a 120 foot nautical line , weighing about 40lbsthat he decided he wanted. He coiled it, tied it to his backpack and carried the extra weight for the remainder of the trip.  His enthusiasm to find his limits and go beyond made Pararescue a great fit. Captain Joel Gentz successfully completed Pararescue training and was excited to deploy. Joel always downplayed the dangers of his job to his family. He told them he was an officer, and that he was well trained to do his job. These things were very true; however, he didn't go into the details that his "job" included jumping from perfectly good airplanes into hot combat zones to rescue wounded soldiers.

He left for his first deployment in April 2010 to Afghanistan. Six weeks into his deployment, on June 9th, 2010 Joel Gentz , 25, was killed in action when his helicopter was struck with multiple RPGs. Joel's team on Pedro 66, was landing to assist a wounded British troop in Afghanistan. Four other airmen lost their lives as a result of the crash. There were only two survivors, Master Sergeant Aguilera, the door gunner, and the co-pilot, Captain Simone. Both of these gentlemen have stayed in contact with the Gentz family. Joel's family continues to be strongly involved in military philanthropy through Team RWB. They have participated in countless events from 5-ks to full marathons in honor of Joel and all others who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. Their hope is to emulate Joel's wonderful spirit through activities they are confident Joel would be participating in if he was here.


- Eric Myeroff, 2014