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Walk so a Loomis vet can drive again

Wounded Warrior Walk to raise funds for Marine who lost his legs in Afghanistan
By: Kathy Maynard Loomis News Correspondent
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A Loomis Marine needs some help getting back in the driver’s seat. Purple Heart recipient Lance Corporal Josh Hotaling, 24, an outdoors enthusiast who guarded two presidents at Camp David, suffered head injuries in a training accident, then re-enlisted to deploy to Afghanistan, was injured on May 11 when he stepped on an Incendiary Explosive Device (IED). In March 2011, Hotaling’s unit was deployed to Sangin, Afghanistan, called “The Fishbowl” because of the extraordinarily high number of troops killed or wounded in action. “He got the job with his unit of being out in front to clear IEDs,” said his mother, Cheryl Hotaling. “While on patrol he stepped on a low-metalic IED that the mine sweeper didn’t pick up.” After two months and 20 different surgeries at Bethesda National Medical Center for multiple amputations, pneumonia and a bowel obstruction, he lost both legs and part of his right hand. Capital Christian School, in Sacramento, is holding a Wounded Warrior Walk on Friday, Nov. 11, to raise funds to help purchase a jeep that Hotaling, a 2005 graduate of the school, can drive with hand controls. “The military has a grant for about $17,000 for vehicles for injured veterans, but the cost to have a vehicle modified will far exceed that,” said Cheryl Hotaling. Hotaling, who attended First Baptist Church, in Loomis, in the late ‘90s and moved here from Roseville with his family in 2005, enlisted in the Marines in April 2006. He spent more than two years in Presidential Security Services at Camp David for both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, then transferred into the Infantry at Camp Pendleton in February 2010, where he was assigned to the 1st Batallion, 5th Marine Division. While in Mule Packer’s class at a Marine warfare training center in Bridgeport, Calif., Hotaling was dragged under a mule. After undergoing surgery to put five plates and 40 screws in his head, and five months of rehab for traumatic brain injury, Hotaling decided to re-enlist because he wanted to deploy to Afghanistan with his unit. “From the time I can remember, Josh and his (twin) brother, Troy, wanted to be Marines.” said Scott Maniord, 24, of Granite Bay, a family friend since childhood. “Re-enlisting after his accident speaks to Josh’s character.” It’s amazing, the recovery these guys go through, said Mark “Coach” Soto, the military father and retired Del Oro football coach who founded the “Battle at the Capital” football invitational and created the documentary, “The Day Remembered,” to raise awareness of the plight of warriors wounded in the Iraqi and Afghan wars. “They not only have to deal with the devastation of the actual injury, but also the terrible infection many get from the blast, because of the way IEDs are so crudely put together,” Soto said. Hotaling was transferred to the amputee rehab program at Balboa Naval Medical Center in San Diego and stood on his new legs for the first time on Sept. 5. He’ll spend the next nine to 12 months in rehab, learning to walk and drive his adapted vehicle. “I spent two months with Josh at the hospital and none of the young men felt sorry for themselves.” said Cheryl Hotaling. “Their attitude is, ‘Alright, this happened. Let’s move on. When can I get through rehab and out of the hospital, and back to doing what I want to do?’” For more information, on the walk go to ccscougars.org/athletics/index.aspx; for Battle at the Capital go to battleatthecapital.com; and for the Day Remembered Documentary go to thedayremembered.org.