He knew the risk and he’s not complaining.
Sgt. Josh Hall, 23, stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., said overall he has gained more than he lost while serving his country during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
In a series of events that took place before a nearly fatal encounter with an explosive on July 31, Hall described a two-hour firefight, which led to missiles and mortars being dropped.
The battle resulted in a few casualties for the opposition, he said.
“They asked us to go out there and do what’s called a battle damage assessment to see what kind of damage we did,” Hall said. “I volunteered to go.”
While he was inspecting the safety of a wood line about 200 meters from camp, Hall said he scaled a 9-foot wall and unknown to him on the other side was an IED.
“I left my guys back a little ways and went up by myself to check it out,” Hall said. “As I jumped off the wall, I saw it. It was barely sticking out of the ground. I tried to push away from the wall to get over it, but my left heel caught it and it blew me back 20 feet the other way.”
The IED, Hall said, was made with carbon rods, which kept it hidden from metal detectors. He said he waited about 43 minutes before he was able to be airlifted out for medical attention.
“We were so deep in there that we had to climb eight or 10 different walls just to get back to where the helicopter would land,” Hall said. “I was awake the whole time.”
He was first taken to Germany for medical attention and on Aug. 5 made it to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where family was able to provide him with support while he recovered from the loss of his left leg and other painful injuries.
“I’ve had a lot of support through everything,” Hall said. “They have been there through all of it.”
His father, Roger Hall, has even moved to Maryland to help him through the healing process.
“When he came out of the coma, the first thing he said, he asked if his guys were alright,” Roger Hall said. “Then he said, ‘When do I get to go back?’
“To have him come back as strong as he is and in as good of shape as he is in, it’s amazing. It’s really a miracle.”
Hall has been home on military leave for about three weeks and is set to return to Walter Reed in Bethesda, Md., on Monday.
He awaits word from the Department of Veterans Affairs about whether his military service has concluded.
“I’m just trying to make everything go as fast as it can so I can get back here,” Hall said. “Right now, I’m just kind of in limbo.”
The plan is to be home permanently in “3-6 months, hopefully sooner,” Hall said. “I’m still kind of living in Maryland right now. I’d rather be here.”
More plans for his permanent return are already being made.
Hall said he plans to build a house, perhaps in Gray, and apply for college, where he hopes to study medicine, which was his secondary job while overseas.
“When I wasn’t leading patrols, I got to treat patients,” Hall said.
With the high level of intensity he has grown accustomed to, Hall said he wants to have a lot of challenges when he comes home to stay.
“I just need something stressful to keep me going,” Hall said. “I need some level of stress for me to be able to function.”
However, Hall said the military would be his first preference because he prefers tactical work.
“I’d rather stay in the military, if I could,” Hall said. “I had just re-enlisted before I got hurt. I was going to do 20 years. I’d go back to Afghanistan tomorrow, if they would let me.”
Hall is one of two local natives injured overseas last year with Pfc. Marshall Lane suffering injuries just weeks after Hall.
Both men received a Purple Heart.
Coming home, Hall said, has helped him expedite overcoming obstacles like learning to walk again and drive his car, which has a manual transmission.
“What really helped was coming home,” Hall said. “There everything is handicap accessible. Here (Roger) has like four flights of steps. I had to learn how to do that quickly because I refused to sit in the living room.”
Hall said he feels beyond thankful to still be alive.
“I was resuscitated three times and I’ve suffered a lot of injuries,” Hall said. “It’s a miracle that my brain and everything still works as good as it did before. I thank God for that because there is no other way I would be here.”
Hall’s mother, Michelle Caudill, said her son’s brave decision in Afghanistan nearly a year ago has changed everyone in the family’s lives.
“We’re just amazed,” Caudill said. “He almost died on us. It was really bad.”
Caudill and Roger Hall said they credit the Lord, prayer and great doctors with saving their son’s life.
“That’s what saved his life,” Caudill said. “At the bleakest moments ... we had people reaching out to us. We need to thank God in all of this.”