Joshua Casteel (1979-2012) grew up in an evangelical Christian household and was raised as a patriotic American. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve at age 17, and was later enrolled for a short time at West Point. Casteel was then trained as an Arabic translator and deployed with the 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion to Abu Ghraib prison working as an interrogator from June 2004 to January 2005.
It was at Abu Ghraib that Joshua would have a crisis of conscience
while interrogating a Muslim, who in turn questioned him about his faith in
Jesus. Soon after being challenged about the non-violent teachings of Jesus
by a self-professed jihadist, who freely admitted that he would kill Joshua if given the chance, he applied for conscientious objector
status and was honorably discharged in May 2005.
Joshua was diagnosed in early November 2011 with stage IV lung cancer
(adenocarcinoma), present in his lungs, liver, spine and adrenals. He
believed his illness was a result of his service in Iraq where he was
exposed to the toxic fumes from the burn pits in Abu Ghraib.
Casteel was featured in the 2008 documentary film, Soldiers of Conscience. See a video excerpt featuring Casteel here.
Joshua Eric Casteel died on August 25, 2012.