Friends and family of Army Cpl. Joshua Hargis are on a 222-mile Warrior's Walk to Columbus to recognize the Fort Benning Ranger who lost both legs in an improvised explosive device attack in southern Afghanistan.
Sgt. Patrick Griffith, Hargis' brother-in-law, said Feb. 18 the group left Fort Stewart, Ga., the day before for the walk that will end at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center on March 4. The goal of the walk is to raise money for the family's future medical expenses, and also to raise awareness that America is still at war.
Hargis, 24, was serving with 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment on Oct. 6, 2013, when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb, killing four soldiers and injuring several others. Hargis lost both his legs below the knees.
Hargis received a Purple Heart while he was in the hospital. He was thought to be heavily sedated and unconscious while about 50 family members crowded into the room for the medal ceremony. Resisting a doctor's efforts to restrain him, Hargis raised his right hand and saluted the Ranger Regimental commander who pinned the medal to his blanket.
Griffith, who is assigned to the 38th Explosive Ordnance Disposal at Fort Stewart, said the group is averaging 12-19 miles per day before stopping for the evening. "It's been very good, actually," Griffith said of the walk.
By Monday night, Griffith said the group was in Hawkinsville, Ga.
While the group is taking part in the walk, Griffith said Hargis continues physical therapy at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
During the last few miles of the trip, Hargis is expected to use a custom-built hand-powered cycle to join the group.
The Ranger married Griffith's sister, Taylor, on June 11, 2011.
The couple are now expecting their first child.
"Without question, there is a lot going on in their lives and this is only the beginning of a series of adversities that they will have to overcome," Griffith said. "As an older brother and family member, I would do anything to take back this tragedy that has struck their family, but I can't."
Griffith hopes to raise enough money for the couple to get through the medical treatments and defray costs for future needs.
"We never put a price on it because we didn't want to reach a goal and not have people say we could surpass it," he said. "There is no actual set amount for that."
The Ranger will require prosthetic legs, a vehicle modified for wheelchair access and a home equipped for a disabled person.
Anyone who wants to make a donation to the Hargises or to help sponsor the Warrior Walk may email Griffith at email@example.com or visit thewarriorswalk.com and facebook.com/thewarriorswalk.