Port Arthur vet comes home to hero's welcome

photo by Kevin King

Southeast Texans welcomed home Josh Yarbrough on Wednesday, May 14, in a ceremony honoring the nine-year Marine Corps veteran at his new house in Port Neches.Josh and his wife, Rachael, and their two sons, Patrick, 1, and Sean, 7, were greeted by a crowd of American-flag waving patriots at the family’s newly constructed home on Silkwood in Port Neches.

“It was exciting and overwhelming,” Rachael said of the housewarming, which included more than a hundred guests, the Port Neches-Groves High School Symphonic Band, the West Brook High School NJROTC Color Guard and Grammy Award-winning singer of “God Bless the USA” Lee Greenwood. “We’re still trying to take it all in.”The welcome home was much deserved, as Josh has proved himself a hero both to the Marines and his country.

March 23, 2011, Josh, a native of Port Arthur, was deployed to Afghanistan where on June 15, while on patrol, one of the Marines in his squad stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). After pulling his fellow Marine out of the line of fire and putting tourniquets on him, Josh went to help another wounded Marine and stepped on an IED. The explosion caused him to lose both legs below the knee and his right index finger. He was flown to Germany two days later and spent five days there. June 21, 2011, Josh was flown to Bethesda, Md., where his wife, mother and uncle joined him.

Josh spent a little over two months there going through numerous surgeries. Finally, on Aug. 6, he was flown to San Antonio to begin his rehabilitation.Aug. 11, Josh was released from the hospital and started his rehab the next day at The Center for the Intrepid. There, Josh spent countless hours learning how to walk, pick up things, and do everyday activities.

Finally, things began to turn around for Josh. After completing his rehabilitation, he was released from his therapies in time to enjoy the birth of his second son, Patrick.Josh is now medically retired from the Marines and works for his uncle. His wife spends her days caring for Josh and their two sons.Rachael said she is anxious to settle into her new home and is excited to see a more independent Josh be able to wash dishes, perform handy work around the house, and just enjoy his children at the family’s 2,500-square-foot wheelchair-accessible home.

“It’s great to watch Josh do all the things he was able to do before he got hurt at the other house,” Rachael said.

The home is funded in honor of Chuck Jenness, HelpingaHero.org’s chairman emeritus and golf buddy of Josh. Jenness is founder of HelpingaHero.org’s advisory board and has served the 501(c)3 organization over the past 3 years.

“We’re all here because we’re patriots — every single one of us,” Jenness said to the gathered crowd.

HelpingaHero.org partnered with Mike Johnson, president of Mike Johnson Homes in Orange, to build the home, which features spacious family gathering areas along with four bedrooms, two baths, hardwood floors, wider doors and hallways, an adapted bathroom to include a roll-in shower, a roll-under sink, an adapted toilet area, flush entryways and lots of other features to allow for wheelchair access.

“We couldn’t have picked a better family to build a house for,” Johnson said.

 “These guys volunteer to place themselves in harm’s way to protect the freedom that we enjoy here in America,” said Meredith Iler, national chairman of HelpingaHero.org. “For us, this is our opportunity to help these heroes who have now suffered a permanent injury and will now face 60 years of challenges ahead.”

Thanks to the HelpingaHero.org Home Program, 100 severely wounded heroes from 22 states have been awarded a new adapted home, a HelpingaHero.org press release states.

For more information on the HelpingaHero.org’s Home Program, visit the website at www.helpingahero.org.