A hospitalized Army Ranger has warmed the hearts of millions after a photograph of his salute from a hospital bed was posted online.
Cpl. Josh Hargis, a soldier from Cincinnati, was recently hospitalized after a suicide bomb in Afghanistan left him seriously injured.
According to NBC News, Hargis was wounded by shrapnel on Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman set off a suicide bomb vest. Four members of his 3rd Army Ranger Battalion were killed, and 12 other American soldiers were wounded in the explosion, reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Shortly after doctors at a military hospital in Afghanistan stabilized Hargis’ injuries, Hargis’ commander arrived at his hospital bed and awarded the seemingly unconscious solder with a Purple Heart medal.
At this moment, Hargis surprisingly lifted his arm up and saluted his captain, reportedly struggling with doctors and medical equipment to do so. A photograph of the stunning salute is at right.
The commander sent the photograph along with a letter about the incident to Hargis’ wife, Taylor, writing that “grown men began to weep” at the sight of the salute. The commander called it “the single greatest event I have witnessed in my ten years in the Army.”
Taylor Hargis posted an emotional message on her Facebook page, detailing the commander’s message and her response to the photograph. She wrote:
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 him 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 newspaper, 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.”
The photograph has currently been shared on Facebook more than 5,900 times.
“When I look at that picture, I just think of how proud I am,” Taylor Hargis told NBC affiliate WBBH. “He is badass and he is strong, and he is the epitome of what a man and an American and a soldier is.”
Hargis has since been moved from the hospital in Afghanistan to Germany to San Antonio, Texas, the NBC station added.
Hargis’ mother, Laura Heitman, told Cincinnati’s WCPO that her son “sounded amazing when I talked to him. He was in good spirits.”
“It took him a long time to get into the Army after high school because he had a skiing accident and broke his femur, and they wouldn’t accept him,” Heitman added.
According to his mother, Hargis never gave up hope of joining the Army.
“He was just very determined,” said Heitman. “He wanted so bad to be a ranger. After three or four times, he wrote to the surgeon general and got accepted from the surgeon general.”
“After he went to Fort Benning, they asked him to join the rangers right out of boot camp,” she added. “It was a great honor.”
Heitman also added that Taylor Hargis is currently pregnant with the couples’ first child.
“These are definitely different plans than we had imagined,” said Taylor, “but we’re happy we still get to have one.”