My Thanksgiving Hero Story. SSGT Joshua M. Horton.
My favorite Thanksgiving memory with my hero would be our 2004 Thanksgiving. My son SSgt Joshua M. Horton, USMC, was deployed to Iraq in early September, 2004. He had been deployed in early May, but spent those first months in Camp Pendleton, CA, training for combat. He was part of F Company, 2/24, based out of Milwaukee, WI. This was a holiday season that we anticipated would be spent without Josh, as he was to be in Iraq til the spring of 2005.
Josh was only in Iraq for six weeks, when I got the call that he had been injured. I got the call here, at noon on Friday, October 8th, but he had been injured around 10:00 p.m. on the 7th. His injuries were unknown, at that time. All anyone could tell me was that he received shrapnel wounds to his right side.
A side note to this story....Josh's wife was already on permanent bedrest in the hospital, as she was expecting quintuplets. As the weekend progressed we were told that Josh would be flown to Germany for emergency surgery, and stabilized for transport back to the U.S. to Bethesda, MD, where he would be treated further. I still had no idea how serious his injuries were, and would not find out until I saw him in Bethesda. By Sunday, my two daughters and I were making plans to fly to Maryland to be with Josh. On Monday, the 11th, his wife gave birth to their quintuplets at 25 1/2 weeks gestation.
My daughters and I flew to Maryland late on Tuesday night, only to find my son in very serious condition and on life support. Nothing could have prepared me for what I walked into that night. I have never seen so many machines, tubes, monitors attached to one person. My legs literally came out from under me. As the days and weeks followed, I sat at my son's bedside and watched him recover. On October 30th, one of the baby girls past away, so it became important to Josh to get home to his family. We brought him home to Illinois, released earlier than he should have been, and began his recovery continuance through a local civlian hospital.
Because of the circumstances of Josh's family, his deployment while his wife was pregnant with quints, his serious injuries, followed by her early deliver of the quints, his story made national news. They were given a fully equipped home, and many wonderful other gifts that came from around the country. This all happened within days of Thanksgiving, 2004.
Needless to say, while I had had 28 prior Thanksgivings with my son, this one was the most significant and wonderful to me, and our family. I will forever be thankful for the day my son was spared and sent back to me. I will forever be thankful for the generosity and kindness of people around this country. It renewed my faith in mankind, for I saw firsthand the genuine kindness of strangers, and friends alike. Because of men and women, who serve daily as my son did, I am thankful for my freedoms and for living in such a wonderful country.
Proud Mother of SSgt Joshua M. Horton, USMC
God Bless and Keep Our Marines S