As the nation remembers the events 11 years ago in New York and Washington, D.C., that killed thousands of people and prompted military action in two countries, two local young men, battle-worn American soldiers, are recovering in adjacent rooms at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center from life-threatening injuries they suffered while serving in Afghanistan.
Both U.S. Army servicemen have received the Purple Heart medal. The men’s families said Monday their sons are getting better, but the recoveries could be long.
Sgt. Josh Hall, 22, 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., stepped on an IED while on foot patrol July 31. He was in Afghanistan on his second tour of duty and just a month away from coming home when he was injured.
“He’s lost his left leg and has other injuries. He’s damaged pretty bad,” said Hall’s father, Roger Hall.
Hall’s father and stepmother and his mother, Michelle Caudill, are in Bethesda, Md. as their son recovers.
“He finally got here from Germany on Aug. 5 and he was in intensive care for a couple of weeks,” Roger Hall said.
“He’s on the fourth floor for wounded warriors.”
Hall said his son has had several surgeries and faces several more, but the immediate concern was infection.
“It’s touch and go there for a few weeks, but now he’s doing better.”
In the next room on the injured warrior floor, Pfc. Marshall Lane, 23, a Johnson City native and Science Hill High School graduate, is recovering from being shot while on a training mission with an Afghanistan military police unit.
Lane’s grandparents, Dwight and Beulah Lane, said he’s doing much better now, but has a long recovery ahead.
“He was supposed to leave (Afghanistan) Aug. 15 and got shot Aug. 13,” Beulah Lane said. He was shot by one of the Afghan police officers his unit was training, they said.
As soon as the family heard what happened, several — including Marshall Lane’s wife Amanda, from Erwin, and his uncle Steve Lane, a major in the Army, flew to the military hospital in Germany.
Lane’s grandmother said since then, her grandson — a combat medic with the U.S. Army 549th Military Police based in Fort Stewart, Ga. — has made improvements, but still has issues.
“The biggest thing has been the kidneys because of the extreme blood loss and shock,” she said. “That’s the biggest hurdle ... it’s improving.”
Lane’s grandparents are helping care for his 13-month-old son, Frankie, while Amanda Lane is by her husband’s side, they said.
Beulah Lane said she’s glad her grandson is back from the war, but said so many others still need prayers.
“Don’t neglect to remember the others. They’re over there. They’re still dying,” she said.
“I’m grateful he had a chance to survive,” she said of Marshall. “I admire what he was doing. He was helping the injured and doing his part.”
Hall’s father said his son went into the Army after graduating from David Crockett High School.
“He (always) wanted to be Airborne and was planning on coming back and going to Ranger school,” Roger Hall said.
“He can finally speak, He’s eating solid food. Our main concern is worrying about him getting better,” he said.
“I hate it happened, but I’m very proud of him. He was doing his job and doing it well, but that’s part of it,” Roger Hall said.