When he was in his late teens, Joshua Hargis knew he had a choice to make. “I saw the direction my parents and older brother had taken with their lives, and I didn’t want that for myself. I wanted to rise above my circumstances and be the best I could be, so I set my sights on the U.S. Army.”
In April of 2010, Josh completed Basic Combat Training, Airborne School, and Ranger Assessment and Selection. Two years later, Josh graduated from the Army’s premier leadership course, Ranger School, and trained to become a K9 Handler within the 75th Ranger Regiment. He served four deployments to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. It was during Joshua’s last deployment, while conducting operations in the city of Kandahar, when tragedy struck.
“On October 5, 2013, I was tasked as a K9 Handler with my dog, Jany. During a night raid, we were drawn into an area that was littered with buried IED's (improvised explosive devices), and our targets had donned explosive vests that were concealed under their clothing,” explained Joshua. “Our unit sustained catastrophic injuries. Four members of our team died. My K9 companion was killed. Another soldier and I suffered battlefield amputations, and countless others suffered severe injuries.”
As a result of his injuries, Joshua lost both his legs, one above the knee and the other below.
Just a week before his devastating injuries, Josh learned that his wife was pregnant with their first child. “I was so intent on getting back to my wife and unborn child, but I was afraid of facing my wife in broken form. My fears and insecurities were washed away when she raced to be by my side as the ambulance doors opened. There was never a moment that she wasn’t by my side fighting for me when I couldn’t.”
After returning to the United States for medical treatment and rehabilitation, Josh returned to work in the Ranger Regiment K9 training unit before medically retiring. A fellow Army Ranger, who served with Josh the night of the attacks, revealed more about how Josh was injured.
“With complete disregard for his own safety, even after his K9 partner Jany had been killed, Josh still took off into a live minefield to render aid to another Ranger. That’s the kind of person Josh is,” said U.S. Army Ranger Spencer Cox. “He is the most selfless individual I have ever had the privilege of working with. His tireless work ethic, spirit, soul, and love for his family are truly remarkable. There is not another man like him that I would trust my life with. I know that Josh can manage and succeed in any environment, no matter what is thrown at him. However, an accessible home will greatly benefit his wife, Taylor, and his boys, and their way of life, as it will help Josh to be more self-sufficient. He does not seek gratification for his service. He has far out earned more than we can ever give him.”
The Gary Sinise Foundation looks forward to building Josh and his family a smart-technology, mortgage free home built for his needs, where he can fully participate in the beautiful life they have created.