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Why I Serve: Injured Soldier Vows to Return to Full Duty

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas, Oct. 13, 2004 – "As long as you have heart, there's nothing to stop you," said Army Sgt. Joshua Forbess, one of just five soldiers who survived a fiery Black Hawk helicopter collision over Mosul, Iraq, last November.

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Army Sgt. Joshua Forbess, seriously injured in a fiery Black Hawk collision over Mosul, Iraq, last November, vows to do everything in his power return to full duty, even if it means a return to Iraq. AFPS photo

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The driving force behind his efforts to recover fully from his injuries and to return to full duty in the military is "all in here," Forbess said, tapping his chest.

By just about anyone's standards, Army Sgt. Joshua Forbess has done his duty and served his country.

The 27-year-old Decator, Ill., native never woke up from the incident until eight weeks later, and still tears up when he discusses the 17 of his fellow 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) soldiers who died in the crash, many of them his friends. Forbess lost an ear and half of his nose and received broken bones, extensive burns and smoke inhalation injuries.

While he continues to recover from his injuries a process that, including reconstruction surgery, could take two or three years he's back working at Fort Campbell, Ky., and committed to returning to full duty with his unit, the 320th Field Artillery Regiment's 1st Battalion.

"I love my job. I love training soldiers," said Forbess, who was being treated here at Brooke Army Medical Center when he spoke with the American Forces Press Service. "There's nothing else I could do that I would enjoy as much as that."

Forbess said he barely notices the curious looks he receives when he goes out in public, revealing his facial injuries to the world. "I don't notice people staring," he said. "There's no shame. I'm still the same person inside."

While he recovers, Forbess is helping the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes plan its upcoming conference for wounded servicemembers and their families. The group's Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute is slated for Dec. 8 to 12 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

Forbess said the highlight of his military career was earning the Bronze Star for his service in Iraq. "It means they took recognition of everything I did for my soldiers," he said.

And Forbess wants nothing more than to be declared fully fit for duty so he can again take care of soldierseven if that job means another tour of duty in Iraq.

"I'll go back," he said, without hesitation. "I'll go anywhere I have to go."

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