Soldier 'Salute' Picture Inspires Fundraising Effort
Updated: Tuesday, February 18 2014, 01:14 PM CST
CINCINNATI - We remember Josh Hargis. How could we forget?
It has been four months since the Army Ranger from Cincinnati gave the "Salute Seen Around The World" after suicide bombers blew off his legs below the knees in an IED attack in Afghanistan.
Since the 24-year-old ignored his agonizing wounds to salute his commander, Hargis has used the same guts and determination to try to recover the life he and his expecting wife Taylor planned for themselves, his brother-in-law says.
Over the last few weeks, Hargis has been walking on prosthetic legs, going up and down steps with the use of a cane, working out in the gym and riding a hand cycle on the street while his dog Dent runs alongside.
"Josh has been unswerving in his determination to get back to the way he was," said Sgt. Patrick Griffith. "He's dead-set to getting back to doing everything he did before."
Griffith organized the Warrior's Walk, starting Monday, in honor of Hargis. It’s a two-week walk designed to raise money for the wounded Ranger and support for soldiers in harm's way.
"After Josh was blown up on Oct. 6, Taylor flew to see him in Germany and the first thing he said to her was, 'I'm alive. You're alive. We're back together. I'm going to get my life back,'" Griffith said.
Back in the U.S, with his wife at his side, Hargis soon started rehab at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
"I don’t know how often they go there, but it seems like every time I talk to Taylor on the phone, they're headed there or headed back," Griffith said.
Hargis traveled to Fort Benning, Ga., to attend a service for four members of his unit who were killed in the attack. Afterward, Hargis and other Rangers went to a shooting range, Griffith said.
Hargis fired a pistol from a wheelchair.
"They went to let off steam," Griffith said.
Photo Gallery: Josh Hargis
By last month, Hargis had his new legs.
"The first time he got to walk around his house was pretty cool," Griffith said.
Hargis's recovery has inspired readers of The Warrior's Walk Facebook page, much the same as his salute inspired so many.Griffith planned to set out Monday with his wife and about a dozen others - members of his unit, family and friends - and finish at noon March 4 at the National Infantry Museum. The public will be invited there for a brief ceremony.
"Anybody can join us along the way, but we're not staying in hotels. It's cots and tents," he said.
Hargis plans to join them on the last day and complete the last four miles on his hand cycle, Griffith said.
Griffith said he hopes to raise $100,000 for Hargis and his family. The couple is expecting their first child in May.
Griffith said the extra money would help defray the cost of modifying their home and replacing Hargis' prosthetic legs over time, among other things.
Contributions are welcome at www.thewarriorswalk.com.
Checks payable to Josh Hargis can be sent to PO Box 768, Richmond Hill, Ga. 31324.
Operation One Voice provided the custom-built hand cycle, Griffith said. The Operation One Voice website said it "supports the immediate needs of children and families of wounded and fallen Special Operations Forces."
The Fort Myers, Fla., SWAT team held a fundraiser for Hargis last month, running 222 miles in full gear across a local bridge. Griffith said both of his parents retired from the SWAT team.
Griffith said he hopes the walk will remind Americans that soldiers are still fighting.
“Men and women are still going down range to fight for this country,” he said. "Sometimes people seem more concerned about Justin Bieber getting arrested."
Grifith said he wants to make it an annual event to help other wounded soldiers and their families.