Wounded warrior returns to Iraq during Operation Proper Exit
June 30, 2011
BAGHDAD (June 30, 2011) -- A Silver Star recipient injured in Iraq during 2005 returned there this week to seek closure.
Retired Pvt. Joshua Joseph, a former infantryman with the 2-1st Infantry, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and native of Indianapolis, Ind., sustained injuries while on mission Nov. 19, 2005, during his tour in Mosul, Iraq.
Hoping to make peace with his past memories, Joseph decided to participate in Operation Proper Exit, which provides the opportunity for former service members to return to the battlefield to find the closure they seek in order to help with their healing process.
Joseph received the Silver Star during his actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III, saving the lives of his fellow Soldiers who were severely wounded.
“Like any person who’s been through hard times or something tragic, you have your good days and your bad days,” Joseph said. “In my head, I thought this would be a good way to see how things are now here in Iraq. It gives you a chance to come back and get the chance to leave on your own terms. I didn’t get a chance to do that last time.”
It has been about five months since Joseph has seen his fiancée, Sgt. Felicya L. Adams, a public affairs sergeant for the 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Adams had the opportunity to reunite with Joseph June 26, after finding out that he would be one of eight wounded warriors heading to Iraq as part of Operation Proper Exit X.
“They told me ‘we’re trying to see if she’ll be able to come, but we don’t know if it’s going to work out’,” said Joseph. “I didn’t know if she would be able to come or not.”
Adams said at first she thought it was really weird and kind of strange that here she was on deployment and Joseph was coming over here.
“Then I thought about it some more, accepted it, looked at it as a great opportunity for him and hoped we would get a chance to connect and meet up,” said Adams, a native of Seattle, Wash.
The couple has been together for almost five years and both said the support they give each other has kept them going.
“She keeps me sane,” said Joseph.
“I think it is amazing that the people who are running [Operation Proper Exit] actually respect and understand our relationship,” said Adams. “Although we are not legally married, they realize that we have been together for five years and have a stable relationship. I’m grateful that they looked past that and have treated us like we are a married couple.”
Joseph will be continuing to go out and explore Iraq throughout the rest of the week, but he said having an opportunity to reunite with the one he cares for was an early highlight to his adventure.
Now being reunited with his fiancée, Joseph said, “As an added bonus, I couldn’t say no to that."