Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend. Most have plans made for the "3 B's"--BBQ, beer and beach. Many do not know what Memorial Day really means........a day that commemorates United States men and women who died while serving our country in military service. We must never forget their sacrifices nor should we ever take the freedoms they died protecting for granted. Freedom is the greatest gift--we should always remember these heroes and their sacrifices.

I want to share a post from Blackfive about another hero, SGT John Hoxie.....An American Hero......Airborne All the Way!

Posted By Blackfive

Army Sgt. John Hoxie, who lost an arm and a leg during combat in Iraq, watches 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers run down Longstreet Road on Fort Bragg, N.C., during Division Run, the kickoff event for this year's All American Week celebration May 18 - 21. Hoxie has been recuperating from his wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but journeyed to Fort Bragg to take part in All American Week and see friends from his old unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd U.S.Army photo by Staff Sgt. Mike Pryor

A Warrior Returns

May 21, 2009
Army News Service
By SSG Mike Pryor

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Of all the people who gathered on a gray and rainy Monday morning to watch the 82nd Airborne Division kick off its annual All American Week celebration with a division-wide cohesion run, perhaps no one faced more obstacles to be there than Sgt. John Hoxie.

Hoxie, 24, lost his left arm and leg to an I.E.D. while serving with the 82nd in Iraq in 2007.

For almost two years, he has been recovering from his wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Silver Spring, Md. Despite his injuries, and the fact that he was only recently cleared to travel by his doctors, the Philippi, W.V. native was determined take part in this year's celebration.

The morning of the run, Hoxie watched the runners pass by from his motorized wheelchair. He showed little sign of the emotions that were running through him. It was only when Paratroopers from his unit let out a cheer when they saw him that Hoxie cracked a smile.

"I'm just glad to be here. It's been a goal for a while," Hoxie said, "other people (at Walter Reed) are like 'I can't wait to get out,' but I can't wait to get back."

Hoxie's battalion commander, Lt. Col. Patrick Hynes, said Hoxie was a role model for Soldiers everywhere.

"After all his injuries and rehabilitation he's been through, he still wants nothing more than to be a part of the unit. That says it all about him and about the kind of unit he belongs to," Hynes said.

Although All American Week was the first time Hoxie has been back to Fort Bragg since being injured, he never came off the rolls at his unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. And Hoxie never stopped thinking of himself as a part of the team.

"I try to think of myself as just a regular Soldier with a mission to do," Hoxie said.
Hoxie was doing his mission on Aug. 20, 2007, on a combat foot patrol in Iraq, when he stepped on a pressure-activated I.E.D.

"It felt like time was moving really slow . . . I started to call out 'I.E.D.!' but it blew up," Hoxie said.

Hoxie's friend Staff Sgt. Evan Mace was the first person to reach him after the explosion.

"His leg was disintegrated, and his hand was missing," Mace said.

Hoxie was evacuated to a hospital in Baghdad where he was stabilized, and then transported back to the United States for treatment. At Walter Reed, he underwent a grueling series of surgeries, and had to make the agonizing decision to have his left hand amputated in order to be fitted with a prosthetic. Then the real hard work began - re-learning how to do everyday tasks with two artificial limbs.

"It was like going back to being an 18-month-old again," Hoxie said.

Previously simple tasks like tying shoe laces or using a knife and fork took on new dimensions of difficulty.

"It's times like that where it can be a little annoying," Hoxie said with typical understatement.

Through it all, Hoxie never got discouraged, and never stopped thinking of himself as a member of the Airborne Infantry. He kept in regular contact with his unit, and focused on the goal of recovering from his injuries and returning as soon as possible to regular duty.

"You've got two choices. You can either lay down and quit, or you can stand up and fight through your problems and overcome them," he said.

In April, Hoxie was able to walk upright with the use of canes, and he expects to be able to walk without any support in a few weeks.

Throughout his struggle, Hoxie's never-say-die attitude has been an inspiration for his fellow Paratroopers.

"He's just a great Soldier," Mace said.

The emotional highlight of Hoxie's return to Fort Bragg came on May 19, when he was awarded the Bronze Star by his brigade commander in front of his unit.

As sweet as that moment was, Hoxie has his eyes set on another milestone - he wants to be able to run with his unit during next year's All American Week division run.

"That's my goal for next year," he said.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Behind the Scenes...

Behind the scenes, we have many Angels, quietly working hard for our warriors. We have Angels who give as much of their time as is possible and all their efforts are greatly appreciated.

One Angel in particular stands out: Joe is one of our senior members of the D.C. Wounded Team. He came to Soldiers' Angels over 2 years ago and has made a huge impact. Joe comes from a family dedicated to service and he is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. You see, Joe's kindness has no limits. He spends countless hours keeping track of our wounded and ill warriors, week in and week out, but his dedication does not end there. Joe will often take out our warriors to enjoy meals outside of WRAMC. He is a native of the area and once you tell him what cuisine you prefer, he makes sure to find and take you to the nicest one. Joe has brought together many a lonely warrior, who had few or no friends and as a result of these nights on the town, new friendships have been forged. He also owns a beach home not too far from WRAMC, and has, on various occasions, taken our warriors and their families for a weekend or even a week away. He has taken warriors to his home, for some good ole home cooking, courtesy of mom and dad. When Joe found out there were special car inverters that our warriors could use to charge their prostheses while in a car, he took it upon himself to keep them in stock and presents one to the amputees he meets. Although we urge Joe to submit for reimbursement for his expenses, he rarely, if ever does. I cannot imagine how much he has spent out of pocket to make our warriors lives a little bit easier, yet he does it willingly and out of the kindness of his heart.

Our team has counted on Joe for so much and he has never disappointed. It doesn't matter what we ask him to do, even if it's the warranted run to Costco to pick up drinks and desserts for our events, he does it with a smile (and his big red truck). Joe never asks for recognition or anything in return.

So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, Joe. For all the you have done and all you continue to do in service to our warriors and their families, we are eternally grateful. Having you on our team makes us proud, but more importantly, makes a difference in ways you may never even realize...