Josh Sams was born in 1984 in Wilmington, Ohio. The oldest of three children, Josh has two brothers, Cory and Logan. He attended Wilmington High School, where he ran track and played football, baseball and lacrosse.
After graduating in 2004, Josh attended Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. He continued his athletic career, playing outside linebacker on the football team. Off the gridiron, Josh was studying criminal justice.
Taking a break from his criminal justice studies, Josh joined the Marine Corps in 2006. He was deployed three times to the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. Along the way, he completed the Advanced Assault Leaders Course and the Marine Scout Sniper School.
The first time Josh was deployed, in 2008, he served in Garmsir. This is the same village in which Prince Harry spent his deployment for the U.K., and was the site of heavy fighting as the Marines arrived in support of British and Afghan forces.
In 2010, Josh served in Marjah, which lies in a major poppy field belt; the harvesting of poppies for opium production makes the area a significant source of funds for the Taliban. The town was the location of Operation Moshtarak, a joint offensive involving 15,000 Afghan, British and American troops.
In 2011, Josh had a big year: He married his wife, Lindsey, on July 5—and he left on his third deployment. His destination was Sangin, notorious as one of Afghanistan’s main locations for opium trade and described by the Guardian newspaper a year earlier as “the deadliest area in Afghanistan.”
On January 12, 2012, Josh was on foot patrol in Sangin with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. He stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) and sustained injuries that required both legs to be amputated above the knee. He also sustained a serious pelvis injury.
The Semper Fi Fund provided Josh and his family with a number of family support grants so Josh could focus on his recovery without worrying about financial issues. We also provided him with grants for an adaptive vehicle, a handcycle and an Action TrackChair – an all-terrain wheelchair. We also helped with home modifications, including landscaping, to accommodate the TrackChair.
“After I retire from the Marine Corps, I plan on returning to my home in North Carolina with my wife, Lindsey, and our dog. I’ll be attending the University of North Carolina Wilmington and finishing my bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.”