(Photo: Special to The Cincinnati Enquirer)
The Cincinnati Enquirer
An Army Ranger wounded in Afghanistan has the Internet buzzing with a photo that web viewers have dubbed "the salute seen around the world."
Josh Hargis, who graduated in 2008 from Cincinnati's Gilbert Dater High School, was wounded Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide bomb vest and triggered a series of other explosive devices. The blast killed four members of Hargis' 3rd Army Ranger Battalion and wounded 12 other American soldiers.
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Hargis went to a nearby military hospital. His numerous wounds called for him to hooked up to a breathing tube and other medical plumbing.
His right hand was heavily bandaged. That hand, his saluting hand, rested under red, white and blue blankets when his commanding officer came into his room to present Hargis with a Purple Heart.
"Josh was seriously wounded, as you know, and survived for almost two hours after his injury before arriving to the hospital," Hargis' commander wrote Saturday to his wife, Taylor Hargis, back in Columbus, Ga.
Everyone in the room assumed the wounded Cincinnatian was unconscious, according to Taylor Hargis' Facebook post.
Yet, as the Purple Heart presentation began, Josh Hargis struggled to move his right hand and lift it into a saluting position. Military protocol calls for a soldier to salute when he receives the Purple Heart.
"Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm," according to the message Josh Hargis' commanding officer wrote to Taylor Hargis. He then "rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen."
The Army Ranger based in Fort Benning, Ga., is being moved to a military hospital in Germany and eventually will be hospitalized in the United States.
"I cannot impart on you the level of emotion that poured through the intensive care unit that day," the commander wrote. "Grown men began to weep, and we were speechless at a gesture that speak volumes about Josh's courage and character."
The Cincinnati Enquirer/USA Today