The Wege family traveled to Camp LeJeune, Jacksonville, North Carolina, December 10 to witness the presentation of the purple heart to our son, Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Wege.
The Purple Heart ceremony was done after dark fell, but was very touching even in the dark. The darkness actually contributed to a feeling of privacy, though we were surrounded by hundreds of people. Josh was called forward in front of the assembly and the orders giving him the award were read. We heard remarks about his bravery and the example he set during his rehabilitation serving to inspire the troops. Most impressive, however, were the individual reactions of Josh's platoon members when they realized he was standing among them.
We arrived in an open area near the armory about ten minutes before MP Company arrived. Josh stayed near a sidewalk because the ground was very uneven and he didn't want to take a fall. As platoon members broke ranks and sought out family members, several came upon Josh quietly standing and watching his unit come home. Their joy in the reunion with Josh was awesome to behold. Captains, sergeants, enlisted men, and even a colonel stopped to speak with him and us. The family was able to hear first hand the respect in which Josh is held by his peers.
Thursday night we went out for a steak at Texas Roadhouse with Corporal Carlos Arce, his brother John, and John's wife Jen. Great food, great time! On Friday we relaxed in the house the Marines gave us to use. Then the visitors stopped by. Sgt. Killingsworth, the man who ripped open the damaged door of Josh's vehicle so he could be treated, was among them. We heard more details about the blast in which Josh was injured. The Marines spoke of Josh's quiet and calm after his injuries. They spoke of his joking with them as they were working to stop the bleeding with multiple tourniquets. These returned warriors spent a lot of time with their wounded brother. The respect shared among them and their concern for his well-being made us humbly proud. These men are truly impressive Americans.
Our concern over these past two and a half months has been centered on Josh. That week God granted us the privilege of meeting the men who are part of his military family. It was His will to bring them all home again. Welcome home, Marines.
The Weges returned to Wisconsin and the boys to Washington DC on December 14. Joe and Josh are expected to fly into Whitman Field, Oshkosh, by the Veterans Airlift services on Friday afternoon, December 18, for a Christmas holiday stay. A December 29th reception is planned:
WELCOME HOME LANCE CORPORAL JOSHUA WEGE
The Wege family and students of WLA would cordially like to invite the public to welcome home Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Wege on December 29, 2009, at Winnebago Lutheran Academy, 475 E. Merrill Avenue, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. (Please enter the gymnasium through Door #1 found at the northeast corner of the campus.) The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a short presentation by the Traveling Choir and select students of WLA. After the presentation, LCpl. Wege would appreciate the opportunity to meet and thank those in attendance. This party is open to the public from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. After 8:30, the Wege family requests that the remainder of the evening be private for their family and friends.
Thank you so much for all you have done. Merry Christmas everyone! God bless you.
Explanation of the photos of the purple heart ceremony--Josh standing in front of his own platoon on his own feet, just as he wished. :)
Photo #1: Josh stands in front of his unit as the commander--facing the unit-- prepares to present Josh with the purple heart while the certificate of the award is read aloud.
Photo #2: Josh had already been presented with the heart--see his chest--and is about to receive the certificate.
Photo #3: Here is a private moment for the unit as the commander and Josh greet them after 2 1/2 long months of separation. Welcome back, buddy! (We later learned how much Josh was missed by them.)