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MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- Marshfield native Staff Sergeant Joseph Altmann died on Christmas day during an insurgent attack. The 27-year-old had been serving as an army medic for the past seven years.
"Joe was loved by everybody," said his grandmother, Gerrie Altmann. "I think we all were praying for his safety all seven years that he's been in the service. For seven years, god kept him safe, but must have decided it was his time."
His name was Joe but his friends and family called him "Snowman."
"He loved to play in the snow," said his grandmother. "When he was younger he was very active. He liked adventure."
"I met Joe in kindergarten and pretty much we've been friends ever since kindergarten," said Samuel Klumb. "We played football, basketball and baseball together, just doing all the extra-curricular activities after school and then just hanging out at each other's houses."
Staff Sgt. Altmann was back in town a few weeks ago for Thanksgiving. The Marshfield Columbus grad visited family and helped out with a community dinner his mother organized.
"He said he was looking forward to going back and serving his country and helping other people and hoping that eventually the war in Afghanistan would be over," said Gerrie.
"When the moment got dull, Joe always was the guy who threw something in there that made the rest of the guys laugh and kept things going," said Klumb. "He was one of those guys that was more than willing to do anything for a friend. Always there willing to listen if someone was going through something."
Staff Sgt. Altmann married earlier this year on the day after Valentine's. His wife, Nikki, works as a flight attendant for soldiers flying to and from military bases.
Now the Altmann's said December 25th is a date they'll always keep close to their hearts.
Staff Sgt. Altmann's family flew to Delaware on Tuesday for the arrival of their son's body.
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