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Amputee Soldiers: A Sobering Cost of War

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Sgt. Josh Hargis salutes from his field hospital bed in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Josh Hargis salutes from his field hospital bed in Afghanistan.

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President Obama vows combat in Afghanistan will be over by the end of 2014, but the true costs of war will be felt long after the fighting has ended. Since the start of the war, more than 2,000 lives have been lost, 19,572 U.S. servicemembers have been wounded in action, 762 have suffered major limb amputations.

Source: Congressional Research Service
In the last 10 years, there have been 762 U.S. servicemember amputees during Operation Enduring Freedom. 1 helmet represents 10 amputees. Source: Congressional Research Service

One amputee soldier who returned from Afghanistan in 2013 is Sgt. Josh Hargis. Sgt. Hargis was part of an Army Ranger strike force attempting to capture a high-value target when several improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were detonated in Panjwai - the spiritual home of the Taliban. The explosions ended up killing four other members in his unit. The Army says the mission prevented a suicide bombing attack in Kandahar City.

After losing both legs, Hargis was awarded a Purple Heart at a field hospital in Afghanistan. His achievement and merit became a viral sensation after his wife Taylor shared a photo of Hargis saluting from his hospital bed on Facebook. It's been called "the salute seen around the world."

NBC News Correspondent Harry Smith has been following Hargis' recovery since he arrived home in October. His remarkable progress has marveled us and many others, including 100 folks who recently took part of a warrior walk in Columbus, Georgia. Smith's update on Sgt. Hargis will be featured tonight on Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Sgt. Josh Hargis salutes from his field hospital bed in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Josh Hargis salutes from his field hospital bed in Afghanistan.

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