PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon woman and Gold Star mother recently learned she doesn’t have long to live and her dying wish is to do something for others.
Janice Sue Page of Philomath has done a lot in her life: she was a Malheur County Sheriff’s Office deputy and a military police officer. She loves her dog, horses and her grandchildren — and has spent the past several years honoring the memory of her son.
Janice Sue’s son, Josh Brennan, grew up in Ontario, Oregon and served in the 173rd Airborne. In October of 2007, Josh was in a remote part of Afghanistan that was the subject of the documentary “Restrepo” and featured in the book “War” by Sebastian Junger when his platoon was ambushed by the Taliban. Janice Sue said her son “took the brunt of all the fire, the RPGs, the guns.”
Janice Sue said Josh was dragged down a hill but his squad leader Sal Giunta went after him alone and opened fire on the attackers, killing all of them, before slinging Josh over his shoulder and taking him back up the hill. Despite the heroic struggle, Josh didn’t survive.
In the years that have followed his death, Janice Sue has honored his life every chance she gets. She was at the White House when President Barack Obama awarded Sal Giunta the Medal of Honor for saving most of the squad and his attempt at saving her son.
Janice Sue was diagnosed with bladder cancer in April 2019. With treatment, it went into remission, but she recently learned it came back and spread to other parts of her body. With a grim prognosis, she has chosen not to undergo chemotherapy. Instead, she wants to enjoy the time she has left on her own terms. She was recently told she has between nine months and a year to live.
“I’m just going to live life loud and happy and enjoy my children and my family as much as possible,” she said.
Learning to ride a motorcycle is on Janice Sue’s bucket list. She wants to ride with the Patriot Guard in the hopes of honoring at least one family of a veteran while she can, the way she was honored. Members of the Patriot Guard group honor military families by attending the funerals of their loved ones who served their country.
“I’m so proud of him and I want to tell people his story,” Janice Sue said. “It’s just such an amazing story to share. And I’m grateful that I had him during the time that I had him and he, you know, he had such an impact on so many lives.”
To help make the wish a reality, the Patriot Guard wants to give Janice Sue a special motorcycle with four wheels that will be easy for Janice Sue to ride. The bike isn’t cheap so the Patriot Guard is trying to raise money.
“We want to have pictures of her son put on it as a tribute bike and pictures of her and her son together,” said Debbie Stagner of the Patriot Guard. “When she passes away she’s going to give it to her other son. When he rides it, it will be a tribute not only to his brother but to his mother.”
Janice Sue said she feels incredibly grateful for the opportunity.
“I am just filled with gratitude because how many people get this opportunity to fill their bucket list, be able to spend time with those that we love and just try to make sure everything is just in order for when that time arrives. I just feel really lucky,” she said. “I’m really excited to see Josh because I do have a faith and I know I’m gonna see Josh, gonna be reunited with my son.”