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Battle-scarred combat veteran visits UC to present certificates

Battle-scarred combat veteran visits UC to present certificates

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008 6:25 am

By JOHN BRANNON Messenger Staff Reporter U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joshua “Josh” Forbess of Fort Campbell, Ky., visited Union City Saturday to present a special award to a local business and nonprofit motorcycle club. Forbess was more than a visitor. He was a distinguished guest, a battle-scarred veteran of combat operations in Iraq. A first glance at his face makes one wince. But that’s OK, he says. He’s used to it. Accompanied by Vivian Wilson, director of Fisher House at Fort Campbell, Forbess met with Russell “Tootie” Abernathy II of Union City, Kenny “Big K” Parker of Kenton and about 30 members of Harley Owners Group (HOG) of Union City. Abernathy is owner of Abernathy Harley-Davidson™ of Union City; Parker is president of chapter 4949, Harley Owners Group (HOG). The meeting and formal presentation of large-framed impressive certificates took place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Abernathy’s retail sales facility at 1703 West Main St. in Union City. (See related photo, Page 12.) Abernathy’s sponsors the local HOG chapter. About Fisher House Fisher House is an organization that provides assistance to wounded soldiers and their families. Fisher House Foundation Inc. of Rockville, Md., has a network of 40 Fisher Houses nationwide, one of which is located at Fort Campbell. It was established on June 6, 2006. Funds for Fisher House Ms. Wilson said since opening, the Fort Campbell Fisher House has served 268 wounded soldiers, “primarily combat casualties,” and their families. On Aug. 16, 2008, Abernathy’s and the local HOG chapter raised $28,280 in a Jokers Wild Poker Run and Bike Show. All the funds were donated to Fort Campbell Fisher House. “We are here today to express our appreciation to Abernathy’s and the Harley chapter for their tremendous support of soldiers and families in the Fisher House program,” she said. “This money they raised last August will go directly to Fort Campbell Fisher House to help provide a better quality of life to the soldiers and families.” Presidential award Today, Forbess himself was honored when President Bush visited Fort Campbell where Forbess is a non-commissioned officer in charge of the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. He is also a much-involved volunteer at Fort Campbell Fisher House. President Bush presented him the Volunteer Service Award for his volunteer work. Forbess is well acquainted with Fisher House. He was a recipient of its services for several months. Forbess has also done volunteer work with Building Homes for Heroes, Bikers Who Care and Camp Rainbow. Severely wounded Forbess was severely wounded and burned in November 2003 when two Blackhawk helicopters collided during a firefight over Mosul, Iraq. He was one of five survivors of the crash that took the lives of 17 soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division. According to American Forces Press Service, Forbess lost an ear, half his nose and received broken bones, extensive burns and smoke inhalation injuries. At Brooke Army Medical Center at San Antonio, where he was airlifted for treatment, he was in a medically-induced coma for eight weeks. His rehabilitation has included reconstruction surgery for his face. He said he barely notices the looks he gets when he goes out in public. “There’s no shame. I’m still the same person inside,” he said. Forbess is allowed to remain on active duty. He wants to someday return to his unit — the 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment. Published in The Messenger 11.25.08

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