Home for the Holidays

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Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Langston White, who was injured in the line of duty in August 2012, became a well-known name in Citrus County in the fall of 2012.

By Eryn Worthington

On Aug. 10, the Crystal River native and 2009 Crystal River High School graduate was on foot patrol in the Kajaki District in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device (IED) severely injured him. White apparently stepped on a pressure-plate land mine while on a mission.

The 22-year-old lost both legs and suffered injuries to his arms, lungs and abdominal area. 

On Aug. 22, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos presented White with the Purple Heart award. Then it became White’s mission to return home and become a member of the Aaron A. Weaver Chapter 776 Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Before he could do that, White had to recuperate. He spent the next month and a half in a hospital before being transported to an outpatient facility at the Wounded Warrior barracks. He received extensive rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

Meanwhile in Citrus County, local residents began reaching out to help White after learning of his ordeal. Citizens hosted multiple fundraisers to establish a recovery fund for White and provide travel funds for his family to visit him while he underwent surgeries and treatment.

On Aug. 23, CRHS hosted a barbecue fundraiser at which countless volunteers manned vending stations with pulled pork and cake pops. T-shirts and wristbands were sold in honor of White serving our country. 

The fundraiser coincided with the Pirates’ preseason football game, christened “The Josh White Night.” White played football at CRHS for four years.

All funds from the barbecue and game were donated to the Josh White fund. 

On Oct. 28, a 21-gun salute commenced a bass tournament at Lake Rousseau and about 50 anglers gathered to fish, with the funds benefiting White. 

Before the fishing started, tournament director Matt Beck announced donations of $6,400 from businesses and individuals were raised. In addition, the fund received 20 percent of the anglers’ $90 entry fees. Money was also raised from food sales and the drawings for donated prizes. By the end of the tournament, more than $8,200 was donated to White’s fund.

“I want to thank the community for everything they have done,” White said. “People I had never even met supported me. I am so grateful.”

On Dec. 19, the hometown hero received his wish of returning to Citrus County.

With sirens blaring and motorcycles thundering, White’s motorcade made its way through Crystal River to the Crystal River National Guard Armory. Hundreds gave White a rousing welcome at an event designated for him, sponsored by the Blanton-Thompson American Legion Post No. 155.

Military, civic and veteran organizations thanked him for his sacrifice and patriotism. 

County Commission Chairman Joe Meek, accompanied by commissioners Rebecca Bays, John “JJ” Kenney and Scott Adams, read a proclamation declaring Aug. 28, 2012, as “Josh Langston White Day” in Citrus County.

Crystal River Mayor Jim Farley presented White with keys to the city and proclaimed the week of Dec. 24 “Josh White Week.”

White is spending his holiday with his family and enjoying his time home. 

“I have two younger brothers who look up to me and I have really missed,” White said. “I’m just enjoying quality time with them.”

White is learning to walk again with his prosthetic legs called “shorties.” Part of his rehabilitation requires his legs to take steps in learning how to walk with his prosthetic legs. Shorties are the first step. White described them as “stilt-like, with no bend in the knees.”

“My goal is to learn to run with my prosthetic legs,” he said. “Right now, I am in a wheelchair all of the time, and that’s not the way I am going to spend the rest of my life. I want to run marathons.”

White will return to Maryland to continue his rehabilitation. However, he is concentrating on time with his family and community.

“I appreciate so much (what) the community has done for me,” White said. “Thank you.”