|American Legion Post 305,
9548 Cherry Valley
Telephone Number 616-891-1882
|Serving Veterans, their families and the
Community for over 57 years
|Homes For Our Troops, Caledonia Memorial Post 305, William Alden Smith Chapter 2 of the Disabled American
Veterans, Lawrence J. Bauer American Legion Post 45 Hastings and Merritt-Lamb American Legion Post 102
are presently engaged in a most worthwhile project for one of our troops wounded while serving in Iraq, Cpl
Joshua Hoffman USMC. Josh's story follows below.
|Josh with his fiancee
|Past Commander Chet Teater has taken the lead on organizing, working with Homes For
Our Troops and numerous other details concerning this major project. Bi-weekly
meetings are being held at the Post. Following is Chet's most recent newsletter
concerning this endeavor.
|Work began by brush hogging the lot, which is located in the Fox Glove
development off State Road to the north between Wood School Road and
Solomon Road. On Tuesday night, July 22nd, work began clearing trees and
brush from the site. Those that participated were Chet & Cindy Teater,
Larry Schans, Bill White, Greg Nicholas and Tom Basarabski. Cindy Teater
was our photographer and not in the picture.
|On July 29th at our meeting we had the great honor of meeting Cpl. Josjua Hoffman and Heather Lovell, his
fiancee,. Time was taken to show Josh and Heather the plans for their new house.
|Here Bill Bravata and Gordon
Jousma show Josh and
Heather drawings of their new
|Signage is now in place indicating
the location of the building site.
|All pictures can be enlarged
by clicking on them.
|Further work was done by Chet Teater-operator, Phil Davis,
Larry Zuverink, Bill White, John Jones and Nick Nicholas.
|Pictures from our 8-12-08 Planing meeting.
|Heather Lovell attended the
meeting and was able to meet
with those that were there.
Cpl. Joshua James Hoffman
Joshua Hoffman is a U.S. Marine. He is 6 feet tall and has brown hair and green eyes. He lived most of his life in
Wayland, Michigan until he moved to live with his dad at the age of 15. His dad is in the army, so he moved to
Pennsylvania, then to Alaska, then to Virginia-where he graduated on the honor roll, and where he holds the school and
state record for wrestling. Josh loves to wrestle – in fact, he had two dreams: to become a Commercial Airline pilot, and
to be a UFC fighter. His senior year he went undefeated, the only person in all of Virginia to ever accomplish this. His
name still stands on a plaque on the walls of Woodside High School in Newport News, Virginia. He was also a drummer
for his high school and for a small band he and some friends put together. Josh got scholarships to many top-notch
schools – including Harvard. Unfortunately, he wasn’t available to afford the remainder of the costs for that school and
therefore had to reject the scholarship. Less than a week after graduation he moved back to Michigan to begin college
there. He began Baker College in the fall of 2001 to become a commercial airline pilot. In 2002, he transferred to
Western Michigan University. With one semester remaining to attain his degree to fly large planes (he already had his
small pilot’s license), he ran out of funds to afford it – and therefore decided his only option was to join the Marines.
Josh Hoffman has always been very physically fit, able to bench press over 400 pounds, and run 5 miles in under 30
minutes. In the Marines he was a NCO Corporal, expert marksman, and well known and the “P.T. Stud”. He left for
Iraq in September 2006 for his third tour of duty overseas at a solid 210 pounds of muscle. Today Josh is a staggering
135 pounds, unable to move anything below his shoulders.
I met Josh in August of 2004. We were introduced “casually” by a mutual friend of ours. We became friends, and
quickly realized we were interested in each other. We began dating not even a month after we met. In Josh’s words,
“We just clicked”. We loved being around each other, and could make the other laugh like nobody else. After my
grandma met Josh for the second time, she informed my mother to tell me to “Marry that boy”. I could honestly say
every member of my family had already adopted him in! Apparently his family felt quite the same about me. We spent
two years as a couple before he left for Iraq. It was, at the time, the test of all tests of our relationship. Later we would
be challenged with an even greater test, which would not shake us, separate us, or make us lose sight of what life would
be like without the other.
January 3, 2007 Josh made his last call home to me. The last thing I said to him was “Please be safe, I love you”. The
last thing he said to me was “I’ll try, I love you too”. Three days later the family and I received phone calls from the
Marines, explaining Josh had been shot in the neck, and he was in very critical condition. Later we would find out that
Josh was unable to move, the bullet entered his neck, hit the carotid artery, smashing through the spinal column,
severing his spinal cord at the base of his neck. Today Josh has no memory of that day, or the several months following.
His perfect vision now so severely damaged he cannot see more than a couple of feet in front of him. His body is weak
and frail, with virtually no muscle mass. His ability to speak dissipated, though he is learning regaining this ability. The
very freedoms he fought for were virtually stripped from him. All this because of such a life threatening injury, resulting
in a body temperature of 108.0 degrees just 10 days after injury. The doctors told us he wouldn’t make it. We watched
miracles, and we watched tears. We felt angry at times, sad almost all the time, and other times we were hugging each
other with joy. We went every day terrified of what the next moment might bring…thinking all the time, “Wow, we
could still lose him…” Somehow or another I managed to know in my heart and in my mind with complete ease he
wasn’t leaving us…God had a bigger plan for him.
January 6, 2007 Josh was on patrol in the streets of Fallujah, Iraq when a man with a rocket-propelled grenade
appeared in their line of site. He ran off, forcing Josh’s group of marines to follow and capture the insurgent. It was a
standard, by the book procedure that they follow effortlessly. Josh was assigned to lead the group of men and humvees
on foot. One shot rang out, the men yelled “take cover!”, and everyone dove to the ground. His men got up to make
sure everyone was okay – but one man did not. Josh lay face- down in the filthy Iraq soil, unable to move until his Navy
Corpsmen came to his aid. His men frantically did everything they could to keep everyone safe while trying to save his
life, and it worked. Every other person that day walked out of there untouched, but emotionally distraught over the
happenings of the day. Josh has spent the last 20 months away from his home, his friends and his family. Fourteen of
those months have been spent inside the four walls of his hospital room, 800 miles away from home. Fourteen months he
lay in the same bed, staring at the same ceiling, praying to wake up and be back in Iraq, having all this be a bad
nightmare. Iraq is hardly someplace to pray to be, but to him – it would bring him back to what was. Fourteen months
straight he has awakened to the crude reality of what has happened to him, his body, his life, and yet he is more
optimistic than 95% of the other men here who have so much more use of their bodies. He tells me how he’s lucky –
lucky to be alive, and lucky it’s not worse. A man who had everything, a life many dream of, and now can hardly speak,
barely see, and cannot move even a finger to itch his nose. Yet, he still says he is lucky. He has a girlfriend who adores
him, and plans to continue the relationship they just started 3 ½ years ago and someday marry him. He has so many
friends and supporters that have been there unconditionally, many of which he met along his journey of recovery, some
of which he’s never met. It’s been a long road to recovery, but he’s fighting on and he will indeed make it. After all, he
is a U.S. Marine! –Heather Lovell, Josh’s Fiancé.
Greetings to all,
Saturday the 31st. was the completion of a long journey in building
a new home for Cpl. Josh Hoffman. It was a labor of love for all that
were involved. I want to thank everyone who participated in this very
noble venture. Josh and Heather want me to convey their extreme
gratitude to all who have took part. They are so happy with the home
and the comforts it brings. Mostly the feeling of having a place they
can call their own. They are planning a party in the Spring, when the
weather is warmer, to thank all those involved with their new home.
I want to thank Homes for our Troops for the fantastic mission they are
on and having allowed me the honor to participate. In this process I have
made a lot of new friends. It has been an honor to have met so many
people that anyone would be proud to call friend.
The support from the community and greater area was phenomenal. The
people and businesses who donated materials or their time are Patriotic
Americans who value the sacrifices that are service personnel make for all
of us. Some say they support our troops, these people do it. I can not name
everyone involved in this project for there are too many but do want to mention
Bill Bravata. His knowledge, patience and persistence made this project
happen. He certainly has earned a place in Heaven.
The Josh Hoffman fund presented Homes for our Troops with a check for
$10,000 to help pay for the house. They have paid for a special bed for Josh,
other furniture and intend to finish the basement in the Spring. ( I will be sending
out a newsletter asking for help when we near that time ) In addition
they will be paying for expenses such as utilities and insurances. Josh will
then be able to focus on his rehabilitation without worry of daily expenses.
To all who have donated you have contributed to a noble cause and your
contribution is greatly appreciated.
I know that when a person is in the military serving their country, their whole
family serves. When a person in the military sacrifices the whole family
sacrifices. One of the good things about working on this project is that Josh
and Heather have become a part of our family and Cindy and I have become
a part of theirs.
From the planning meetings to the turn over their have been many twists, turns
and hurdles. They were all made worthwhile when they asked the principal
players to lean over Josh's wheelchair. He was able to muster a barely audible
"Thank you". All that participated earned that thank you. God bless you and
God bless America.
Cell - 616-299-2255