By Debbie Gregory.
Army Ranger Cpl. Joshua Hargis of Cincinnati, Ohio was one of 14 troops injured during a night combat operation in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, on October 6th. During the mission, an explosive device was detonated near the assault force. As the assault force reacted to the initial blast, they were barraged by a series of explosions that killed four soldiers, including two of Hargis’ fellow Army Rangers from the 3rd Ranger Battalion.
Nearly a week after the battle, Hargis’ wife, Taylor, posted the following on her Facebook page:
“I received this picture today along with a letter from the commander of the team Josh was a part of on the night of his injuries. A letter to explain to me what kind of man I have the privilege of being married to. He explained to me what happened and what was going on in the picture.”
Mrs. Hargis posted the inspiring picture of a patient in a hospital bed, wearing a neck brace, a cast on his right arm and the red, white & blue quilt; rendering possibly the most touching salute since John F. Kennedy Jr. saluted his father’s casket. Mrs. Hargis also posted a letter from her husband’s Commanding Officer, who wanted to remain nameless:
“Josh was seriously wounded… [and] was immediately pushed through a series of surgeries and emerged hours later into an intensive care unit here at our base in Afghanistan. Despite being in intense pain and mental duress, Josh remained alert and compassionate to the limited Rangers that were allowed to visit him bedside.
Before Josh was transferred to a US military hospital in Germany, they conducted a ceremony to award him with the Purple Heart. A simple ceremony, you can picture a room full of Rangers, leaders, doctors, and nurses surrounding his bedside while the Ranger Regimental Commander pinned the Purple Heart to his blanket.
During the presentation, the Commander leaned over Josh to thank him for his sacrifice. Josh, whom the 50+ people in the room assumed to be unconscious, began to move his right arm under the blanket in a diligent effort to salute the Commander, as is the custom during these ceremonies. Despite his wounds and pain, Josh managed the most meaningful salute any person in that room had ever seen.
The unnamed Commander stated, “I cannot impart on you the level of emotion that poured through the intensive care unit that day. Grown men began to weep and we were speechless at a gesture that speaks volumes about Josh’s courage and character. The picture, which we believe belongs on every news channel and every news paper is attached. I have it hanging above my desk now and will remember it as the single greatest event I have witnessed in my ten years in the Army.”
Hargis is now recovering stateside at Brooke Army Center in San Antonio, Texas. The extent of his wounds has not been disclosed. Hargis’ actions in the photo alone, exhibit the strength and dedication which honors the Army and its Rangers. As inspirational as he was in a hospital bed, you can imagine what type of soldier Hargis was on the battlefield. Get well soon, Corporal.