Hargis’ 3rd Ranger Batallion was on a mission in the Panjwai district of Afghanistan when a woman in a suicide vest exploded as a canine unit approached. Two were killed, as well as the dog, and several more were injured. When more Rangers and Army medics moved in to evacuate their comrades, 13 improvised explosive devices detonated. A total of four were killed, with more than a dozen wounded.
Hargis’ commander sent this photo and a letter to Taylor. In it he describes how Josh had to hang in for two hours before reaching the hospital and undergoing a series of surgeries. While in intensive care, a ceremony was held to award him a Purple Heart before his move to Germany and then back to America. From the letter:
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 [nurse] 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.
From NBC Nightly News: