Josh Hargis, an Army Ranger who was gravely injured in Afghanistan earlier this month and thought to be comatose in a hospital bed, brought a group of his fellow soldiers to tears last week when he amazingly raised his hand in a salute during a Purple Heart ceremony.
Hargis, 24, was wounded by shrapnel Oct. 6 when an Afghan woman detonated a suicide bomb vest in the Zhari district of Kandahar province. Four members of Hargis' 3rd Army Ranger Battalion were killed in the attack and 12 other U.S. soldiers were injured, Yahoo! News reported.
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After a series of surgeries, Hargis was recovering in the intensive care unit of an Afghan hospital when his commander brought in a group of his fellow Rangers and other Army leaders to conduct a quick Purple Heart ceremony.
Assumed to be unconscious with a breathing tube and neck brace, Hargis lay still as the medal was pinned to a quilt that covered him. No one had any idea what was about to happen next.
"Despite his wounds, wrappings, tubes, and pain, Josh fought the doctor who was trying to restrain his right arm and rendered the most beautiful salute any person in that room had ever seen," Hargis' commander wrote in a letter to his wife, Taylor Hargis. "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."
A photo of Hargis' gesture is now being called "the salute seen around the world."
Hargis was stabilized, flown to Germany, and then home to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. It's not yet clear the extent of his injuries, but his father Jim told CNN affiliate WXIX that his son lost both his legs.
Hargis did, however, manage to post a thank you message on Facebook last week.
"A huge thank you to everyone who was a part of this and is now a part of it. Only through your love and support may we overcome this difficult road ahead," he wrote.
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