LAPD officer Joshua Cullins died October 20, 2010 while investigating an explosion in Afghanistan. “It was something he loved doing and was dedicated to his fellow Marines and the people in Afghanistan trying to make the country safe,” said LAPD Capt. Daryl Russell, Cullins’ supervisor. “I think he obviously knew he had a very dangerous job.
Every day he got up and put his boots on, he knew the dangers. But he was such a dedicated professional; he did what he had to do.”Cullins was scheduled to be home by Christmas, Russell said. With three years on the force, he patrolled the area of downtown Los Angeles and had two years to go before he could join the bomb squad.
He enlisted with the Marines after graduating from high school in 2000 and was on active duty until 2007, when he became a reservist. His recent tour of duty was with the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, which is the world’s largest opium producer. Decorated with numerous medals for valor, Cullins added one more to his collection in July when he approached a roadside bomb and it exploded.
He spent two weeks in the hospital and was cheered by a YouTube video showing dozens of LAPD colleagues offering wishes for a speedy recovery.
“I understand you recently came recently into some big drug seizure out there in Afghanistan, and I want to make sure when you get back here you’re going to make some drug seizures for us, so don’t forget about that,” Capt. Russell joked on the video.
The video showed Cullins holding bags of confiscated drugs.
Then on Monday, Cullins was investigating a bomb that had already exploded when a secondary bomb was detonated.
“It’s a constant game, a very deadly and dangerous game, between folks who have to try to disarm these things and the people who plant them and manufacture them,” said retired Marine Corps Capt. Dale Dye, a military expert, actor and radio host. “Improvised explosive devices are the single greatest threat to our forces in the Middle East.”
Lt. Rick Smith, who heads LAPD’s bomb squad, said he met Cullins several times during training seminars. On one occasion, the squad traveled to Camp Pendleton for a training exercise by Cullins, who displayed several bombs he had retrieved from the Middle East.
“The kinds of things he faces in Afghanistan are worlds away from what we do here,” Smith said. “I can’t even imagine.”
Cullins is survived by his parents and two younger brothers.