“I was banged up. I was changed forever,” Bleill said.
Then the anger came. He recovered from his injuries in a Bethesda, Md., hospital, but he was so angry, he refused many of the opportunities before him. There was one opportunity he couldn’t pass up though, a trip to the Super Bowl to see his beloved Indianapolis Colts play the Chicago Bears.
“For me, it was bigger than just the Super Bowl,” Bleill said.
After the game, Bleill was then transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he learned to walk again. It was by chance he met the Colts and owner Jim Irsay, who sought Bleill out and wanted to give him a job once he returned to Indiana.
It was almost 10 months at Walter Reed, and Bleill was just getting ready to leave with his new legs when he felt a pain near the ending of his legs. An infection had developed, and further amputation was needed.
“After 10 months of overcoming the worst of my life, I had to go through it again,” Bleill said.
Instead of retreating intoto anger, Bleill said he put a smile on his face and set to learn to walk again. After two years, he returned to Indiana and started working for the Colts.
Bleill told the students “not to be a bomb in someone else’s life,” and to set a good example. He also talked about falling down, literally and metaphorically, in life.
“I could have hid from the world forever,” Bleill said. “Don’t hide. I still fall. When I fall down, I get back up.”
The fact that Bleill was a Marine was not lost on the school. The school played the Marine Corps anthem after the national anthem and the WHS NJROTC cadet corps gave a rousing “hooah” for the speaker.
“I think that just for a second, we need to reflect,” WHS Principal LeAnne Kelley said. “Josh said a lot of great things.”