Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

Features

December 17, 2013

Marine triumphs over war wounds

Talk about overcoming adversity. U.S. Marine Cpl. Joshua Bleill could write a book about it.

In fact, he has, “One Step at a Time,” one of 25 nominated for a 2013-14 Eliot Rosewater Indiana High School Book Award. The 206-page nonfiction book, written with Mark Tabb, is available at The Bookshelf locally.

The Carmel resident was at Batesville High School Dec. 12 to give students a pep talk about rising above difficult situations.

After losing both legs above the knees in Iraq Oct. 15, 2006, he now is an Indianapolis Colts community spokesperson.

Walking to the middle of the gym using a cane, Bleill broke the ice by chatting about the cold weather. “I can’t even feel my feet!” he announced as the students laughed. He remembered listening to a speaker while in high school who had lost both legs. “I never thought I would connect that well with a speaker.”

After graduating from Greenfield Central High School, the spokesperson attended Purdue University and worked for an insurance company. As he watched events of Sept. 11 unfold on TV, “something inside of me clicked.” He thought, “‘I could serve this country. I could give back,’” like his father and grandfather, who were in the military during wars.

At 27, Bleill was sent to boot camp and was skeptical as 17- and 18-year-olds surrounded him.

“These were the guys I was going to trust my life to?” Thinking the 13 weeks was “so hard” at the time, the author realized later drill instructors “wanted me to be prepared. Sometimes the people who push us the hardest are the people who love us the most.”

After being a Marine Reservist for a year and a half, he received a January 2006 phone call “I was waiting for. I wanted to be sent” to a combat zone. “I was scared, I was nervous.”

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