Kentai Bridge, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan. Photo by Samantha Elliott

Kentai Bridge, Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan. Photo by Samantha Elliott

Joshua Elliott.
Monoskier.

I was born on Oct 30 1981 at Edmonds memorial hospital, Washington state.  I grew up in Yakima, Washington and graduated from A.C. Davis high school in the year 2000.  I joined the Marine Corps in 2002 and was given the job of a Combat Engineer.  I spent my first year in Iwakuni, Japan where I was re-acquainted with my best friends little sister, Samantha Cates, who I had always had a crush on and we started dating.

 Samantha and Josh. Photo by Wade Wright

Samantha and Josh. Photo by Wade Wright

I left Iwakuni and was assigned to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California where I began to train for deployment to Iraq.  In December 2004, while home for Christmas, my girlfriend Sam and I decided to get married before I left for Iraq.  My best friend Jed, my fiancé's brother, was also preparing to deploy to Iraq and was home for the holidays. We planned and arranged an entire wedding in a little less than ten days.  We had over 100 guests at the wedding.

In August 2005 I left for my first combat tour in Iraq.  My unit spent seven months traveling the ocean on the USS Cleveland, to include stops in Australia, Egypt, and four months in Iraq.  Upon my return to the United States my wife and I finally got to move in together after almost two years of being married.  We spent another year in San Clemente, California where I was assigned to a training unit and responsible for instructing Marine Corps Martial Arts to the newest members of 1st Combat Engineer Battalion.

ChoTriathalon.jpg

In 2007, my wife and I decided to move back to Iwakuni, Japan where I held several jobs in the Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, over the next three years. During the last year in Japan my friend Adam Kruse and his wife Darci, convinced me to join their team to run a "cho" or long triathlon. My portion of the event was the swimming.  In 2009 I swam two and a half kilometers in the Japanese inland sea from Miajima island to the main land in one hour and seven minutes.

In 2010 Sam and I left Japan and moved to the east coast where I joined 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and immediately began to train to leave for Afghanistan. Within four months I was deployed to Afghanistan and began Combat Operations in the city of Sangin.  On April 18, 2011, while on a routine patrol, I stepped on an improvised explosive device and was seriously wounded.  The Marine Corpsman who was on patrol that day was quick to respond and began work on my body within seconds after the blast. He put two tourniquets on my left leg, two on my right leg, and one on my left arm to stop the bleeding.  A British helicopter picked me up near where I was injured and they began trauma surgery the moment we left the ground.

The most important thing that had ever happened in my life happened next. I fell to my face in the presence of God and when I was asked if I was ready to be judged for the deeds of my life, I begged God to give me another chance at life, that I knew I could do more.  When I woke up from my drug induced coma I knew I was living my second life and things had to be different.  Over the next few months I was in and out of surgery and learning to cope with my new body.  I had lost both legs above the knee, three fingers on my left hand, and many other bits and pieces of my body inside and out.  But I had gained a righteous fear of God and a testimony to tell everyone of how God works in our lives and that there is a judgment day when we all have to account for what we have done in our lives.

 Sangin Afghanistan poppy field. Photo thanks to Christopher Lee Roy Smith

Sangin Afghanistan poppy field. Photo thanks to Christopher Lee Roy Smith

In August 2011 when my Marine unit returned home from Afghanistan, I was there to greet them standing on my new set of prosthetic legs. In December 2011 I tried mono-skiing for the first time. I quickly felt that this was a sport I could get good at.  Within a few short months I was running completely independent on the mountain and learning to run gates in the slalom course. I have been fast tracked for a national caliber team to begin training for the Paralympics in 2018.  As well as mono-skiing I have been swimming, surfing, rowing, rock climbing, and playing tennis. The main thing I have learned is that I can do anything now that I used to be able to do and more.  I thank God every day for my second life and love my wife even more for always being by my side.