The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

February 6, 2013

Speaker tells students to stand up

Bleill speaks of overcoming adversity

WASHINGTON — Josh Bleill has no legs.

But he does not want pity. In fact, if you listen to him, he will inspire you to stand up.

Bleill, a community spokesman for the Indianapolis Colts, delivered his message of triumph over adversity to students of Washington junior and senior high schools Tuesday morning. The former Marine lost both of his legs in Iraq in 2006 when an improvised explosive device exploded in a Humvee he was riding in.

His overall message of overcoming adversity was only more evident through the prosthetic legs he used on the Hatchet House floor.

“I have a dream job,” Bleill said. “I literally travel the country to go out and speak, but it’s not just about my story. The book is not even my story.”

Rather, Bleill said, the book “One Step at a Time,” is about his comrades. Two of his friends in the Humvee died in the explosion. He told the students a part of his journey from a child at Greenfield Central High School, to  a Purdue lacrosse player to what he has become today.

He said the events of 9/11 changed his outlook on America and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserves in 2003. In September 2006, he was sent to Iraq, specifically Fallujah, a hotspot of insurgent activity.

“There’s unfortunately a lot of bombs, a lot of guns,” Bleill said.

On Oct. 15, he along with other Marines was driving through Fallujah about to intercept an incoming vehicle. An IED that was underneath them then exploded.

“When we ran over the median, that’s when the world ended,” Bleill said.

He woke up five days later in a hospital in Germany. His jaw was wired shut, his hands were in casts and he learned his legs were gone. But instead of thinking about himself, he worried about his fellow Marines. He lost a sergeant and a roommate in the explosion.

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