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Ranger's 'salute seen around the world'

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By The Cincinnati Enquirer
Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:15 p.m.

An Army Ranger wounded in Afghanistan has the Internet buzzing with a photo that Web viewers have dubbed “the salute seen around the world.”

Cpl. Josh Hargis, whose special operations unit is based at Fort Benning, Ga., was wounded on Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide bomb vest in Panjwai in Kandahar province and triggered 13 other explosive devices. The blast killed four members of Hargis' 3rd Army Ranger Battalion and wounded 12 other American soldiers.

Hargis went to a nearby military hospital. His numerous wounds called for him to be hooked up to a breathing tube and other medical plumbing.

“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 the soldier's wife, Taylor Hargis.

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 had just come out of surgery. Everyone in the room, probably about 50 people, figured he was unconscious,” Taylor Hargis said. The soldier's wife of 2½ years spoke by phone from San Antonio, where her husband will be hospitalized. He is en route from an American military hospital in Germany.

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.

A doctor tried to restrain the wounded soldier's right arm. It was, alas, a losing battle.

“He had no idea how strong and driven my husband is,” said Taylor Hargis.

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