LENOX -- A hometown hero injured in Baghdad will be honored with a welcome home celebration here at 3 p.m. today.
On March 20, Josh McLamb, 24, a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, was working with fellow medics in a medical facility in St. Mere, a forward operating base in Baghdad. An enemy rocket was launched into the facility and landed near where the medical station was located.
Fellow medics Major Mark D. Taylor of California and Specialist Matt Sandri of Pennsylvania, were both killed. McLamb's injuries included a shrapnel wound to his back that left a hole the size of a soda can.
Charlene Griffin of Lenox, who helped organize the event, considers McLamb one of her own.
"Josh is just like one of my sons," she said. "I felt I needed to do something for him."
Griffin said the homecoming celebration is a surprise for McLamb. McLamb's mother is traveling to Ft. Bragg, N.C. to bring him home. The Cook County Sheriff's Office will meet the McLambs at Eldorado and escort them to Lenox.
Once there, the Lenox Police Department will escort them to Lenox Christian Fellowship downtown. The church's pastor, Jimmy Hinson, will join the escort. The "Under the Blood Youth Ministries," the youth group Griffin leads, will sing songs to McLamb once the group arrives at the church.
"I just want people to come out because I want it to be a big day for him," Griffin said.
Master Sgt. Pam Smith, who works in the 82nd's Public Affairs Office, said Friday that McLamb and young men and women who serve in the military deserve the recognition.
"These are people who are out there risking their lives to save others every day," she said. "They see everything and they have also served Iraqi civilians. In fact, most of their patients are Iraqi civilians."
Smith recalled a story told by one of the medics. An Iraqi civilian who didn't have access to medical care hobbled into the medical facility.
"He had been walking around for three months with a broken femur," Smith said.
Smith said McLamb received extensive medical training in the army and most medics go on to become registered nurses.
"I am glad they are going to honor him," Smith said. "I am glad that he is alive and I hope that he has a full recovery. The community and his parents can be so proud of him because he served his country.
"The medics are close and they are often working on someone who is part of their family."
To contact reporter Angie Thompson, call 382-4321, ext. 208.
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