I have previously sent my story to you, and you have published it, as well. I still wear my bracelet, and have since I first bought it. It never comes off, even when I get formally dressed and wear more glitzy jewelry, this is the finest piece I have to wear. I am proud to wear it, and still get people asking what it is all about. When I tell them my story, most apologize for asking, because they know it stirs great emotion. I'll gladly tell you my story once again, and it will probably bring back the memory of my original letter to you.
My son is SSgt Joshua M. Horton, USMC. Josh joined the Marines while still in high school. He entered with the delayed enlistment program. He spent many weekends drilling with the local Marine recruiters in preparation for his enlistment upon his high school graduation. He left for boot camp in California two weeks after graduation. His grandparents, a family friend, and I flew to Cali for his graduation. From that point on, in every letter, or during every phone call, Josh spoke of being a career Marine. He had his whole future with the USMC planned out. He got married during his second year of service, and began his family. His wife wasn't as gungho about his career as he was, so he decided to leave after his active years, and go into the reserves. He pursued a career, back here at home, in the local police department. After moving back home, he couldn't find a reserve unit close that had an infantry unit, so he didn't continue in the Marines. September 11, 2001, changed the lives of everyone in our country, and Josh decided to search out an infantry unit so that he could reenlist in the reserves. He found such a unit in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, about 2 1/2 hours away from our area. In late 2003, Josh's unit was informed that they would be deployed in early 2004. Josh's unit prepared for their departure. We had several family readiness meetings, family picnic days, etc. so that the families, as well, could be prepared. During this time, Josh and his wife found out that they were also expecting quintuplets. Josh made the decision to continue in his deployment, because he felt that is what he should do, as he knew many that were leaving behind pregnant wives. He also felt that his going meant some other father could come home to his family. Josh left in May, 2004, and headed to Camp Pendleton, CA, to begin 3 months of intense combat training. I was here, as were his sisters, to help his wife and the two children he left behind. There was a great support system in place to help at home, so that he might deploy with a sense of comfort. Josh left for Iraq, right after Labor Day, 2004. Josh was in country for only six weeks when we got the news that he had been injured. I was told that it was right side shrapnel wounds, but never was readied for what was to come. Josh was injured on October 7, 2004. We will soon celebrate this anniversary. Celebrate sounds like the wrong word, but I mean that sincerely. We celebrate Josh's life and that he lived to come back home. We celebrate because, while this was not a day I wish on anyone, it is not a day that I would trade now either. Josh's wife gave birth, at 25 1/2 weeks gestation, to their quintuplets on October 11, 2004. Our life became the roller coaster ride that wouldn't stop during those four days, and continued on for many weeks and months beyond. I flew to Bethesda, MD, on October 12, 2004, with my two daughters in tow. I walked into the ICU there to find my son on life support with far greater injuries than I could have imagined, only to find out that he had had to be resuscitated during surgery in Germany, because he had lost so much blood. I spent the next five weeks at his bedside, watching him recover, learning to walk again on legs that were badly damaged. Every doctor that has touched my son, has told me that he should not have lived through this injury, should not have his right leg, etc., etc. By the grace of God, and many skilled hands, my son did survive, does have his leg, and has recovered better than anyone could have imagined. I am a very lucky mom.......I have my son. He is my miracle, he is my hero. Not only is he my Marine hero who fought a war, he is my hero for the way he fought to recover, and he is my hero for the way he lives his everyday life. He still is a police officer and returned to that work after being medically retired from the USMC during the summer of 2007. It took him three long years to recover enough to go back to civilian life and return to his police job, but he did. He loves the Marines and would have continued had he been able, but he could not continue as an infantryman, and that is his passion. He cannot run a PFT anymore, but the USMC in always in his heart. In a few short weeks, we will attend the USMC birthday ball. He will proudly wear his blues, and we will proudly be at his side.
Proud Mother of SSgt. Joshua M. Horton, USMC
God Bless and Keep Our Marines S