As USA Patriots visit Bismarck one veteran reflects on his life changing injuries and his quest to help others

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Josh Wege was just 19 years old when his life changed forever. An event that would make him who he is today, and ultimately a Purple Heart recipient.

“I remember not being able to feel my feet, but there wasn’t any pain,” Josh Wege said. “My feet felt numb and then I slowly kind of investigated, worked my way down my legs and I kind of kicked them straight out and they just weren’t there anymore.”

Retired Marine Lance Coporal Wege is a double amputee. A direct result of driving over a roadside IED while on patrol in Afghanistan.

“I remember kind of just sitting back and accepting death,” Wege said. “I open my eyes a couple seconds later and I’m like, ‘Oh I’m still here.’ It just kept going and I was wondering when’s it coming, when’s it coming, when’s it coming. At a certain point I was just like I’ve got to fight.”

Wege fought, and won. A battle that nearly cost him his life, but the loss of his legs isn’t that much of a loss in his eyes.

“Honestly I can tell you it was one of the biggest blessings in my life,” Wege said. “I can say that because if you look back and you see the path my life has taken, I’ve gotten to do so much more good with it without legs than I would’ve if I still had my legs.”

Now Wege spends his time on the softball diamond playing for the USA Patriots charity softball team made up of veteran amputees from around the country. A group that he says is as close as any military platoon.

“You’re taking a horrible situation and then you’re putting a game into it,” Wege said. “You’re also adding friendship. I mean I’ve created lifelong friends with these guys.”

While he’s not on the field, Wege is studying to become a prosthetist. It’s his way of giving back to those who are experiencing the same lifestyle as him.

“It’s made me a better man,” Wege said. “It’s given me a challenge and I’ve always asked for that. That’s why I joined the Marine Core in the first place was to challenge myself. It’s made me who I am today and I’m pretty damn proud of that.”

Wege and the USA Patriots will be competing Saturday in Minot.

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