Purple Heart Hero’s Amazing Salute

Posted: Oct 15, 2013 7:00 PM

There are still stories that can touch our hearts and renew our sense of American pride.

The story of Joshua Hargis is one that has to be shared. A young Ranger with the 3rd Battalion, Josh was deployed to Afghanistan's Panjwai district on a High Value Target (HVT) mission, where so much went wrong.

According to the account listed on Guardian of Valor, as the unit went in to question a man they found on site, a woman wearing a suicide vest appeared. She blew herself up, killing several of the soldiers instantly and wounding others. As rescue forces arrived to help the wounded, 13 more explosives went off, increasing U.S. fatalities.

Joshua was among the wounded and was first evacuated to a base hospital in Afghanistan. After he was stabilized, Army officials conducted the Purple Heart ceremony at his bedside, to award him for his sacrifice in action.

The photo above symbolizes everything that is strong, courageous, and exceptional about our nation’s servicemen and women. Below is the touching account of Josh’s ceremony, as shared by his wife, Taylor, 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.

“Josh was seriously wounded as you know, and survived for almost two hours after his injury before arriving to the hospital. Josh 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 his bedside. Prior to Josh being moved to Germany for his eventual flight to America, we conducted a ceremony to award him with the Purple Heart for wounds received in action.

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 publishes the official orders verbally and leaned over Josh to thank him for his sacrifice.

Josh, whom everybody in the room (over 50 people) assumed to be unconscious, began to move his right arm under the blanket in a diligent effort to salute the Commander as is customary during these ceremonies. Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes, and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm and rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen.

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 speak 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.”

Since Taylor’s post, Josh’s picture and story have gone viral online. With the mainstream media’s incessant focus on the latest Washington calamity, it can be difficult to remember that we are still at war - that men and women are injured and dying every day to protect our great nation. It’s amazing that although Washington can’t do its job, and even let military death benefits go unpaid, our brave service men and women continue to give their all to serve the American people. That’s the difference between perceived power and real strength.

Simply saying thank you doesn’t do justice to the sacrifices of military members and their families. No words can describe our nation’s gratitude.

But thank you, Hargis family, not only for your dedication and sacrifices, but for allowing us to celebrate the true American spirit in a time when we so desperately need it.

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