Marine Cpl. James Russell Moseley hasn’t forgotten that last step as he headed toward a security position inside a compound in Afghanistan nearly four years ago.
“They (Taliban) had planted an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) at the base of the stairs and I stepped on it,” Moseley remembered. “The last thing I remember seeing before the explosion was Canvas rushing up to me and giving me the signal that a bomb was present.”
Canvas was Moseley’s K-9 partner. The labrador retriever was a bomb sniffer, and she was trying to warn her partner. She, too, was injured in the explosion which would eventually cost Moseley a portion of his right leg from roughly 14-inches below the knee.
Moseley believes he survived the incident because of the bomber’s miscalculation.
“Truthfully, I think they buried it too deep. I had already put my foot down as Canvas came running up. I had it out in front a little longer than a normal pace getting ready to climb the stairs,” he said.
When the charge detonated, Moseley said he thought “…it was one of my brothers that got hit when it went off. My first thought was ‘Oh God, somebody’s hurt and I’ve got to get to them.”
A split second later, he was landing on his back and realized he was the IED’s victim. “OK,” he thought. “My legs are probably gone; let’s push back over and get some tourniquets ready.”
But when Moseley pushed himself over, he saw his feet.
“When I saw both feet, I laughed with relief,” he said. “But I knew my right foot was broken and I could see the toe of my boot was gone. I turned my leg up to see if there was blood so I would know
if I needed a tourniquet.”
Even while suffering from the painful injuries, his thoughts were still with his comrades.
“Two of my friends came running up but I stopped them. I had them turn my leg over and I got to my knees to send Canvas out to look for a secondary bomb,” Moseley remembered. “I knew the injury was serious, but I still had a job to do. The job goes on.”
Moseley was wounded March 13, 2011, approximately four months into his deployment to Afghanistan. He was in his third year in the Marine Corps and had already completed one combat tour in Iraq.
Over a period of seven weeks he spent time in hospitals from Ramstein Air Base in Germany to the naval base hospital in San Diego. After discussing his injuries with the military doctors, Moseley made the difficult decision to amputate his severely damaged right foot.
“Every bone in the foot and lower part of my right leg was broken or dislocated,” he said. “(Doctors) said they would have to pin every single bone and fuse them in order for me to ever walk again. I said it wasn’t worth it, to go ahead and amputate.”
After undergoing multiple surgeries, Moseley proved his determination by walking on his prosthetic device well enough to take it home after only two weeks. Most amputees are not allowed to take a prosthesis home until six weeks of training, Moseley said.
He had a motive for working hard to reach a point of independence. Moseley and his wife, Suzanne, had been married a year and a half earlier in California. Few family members were able to attend.
“I had a vow renewal coming up in July. I told my doctors and therapists that I was going to walk down that aisle holding her hand, not ride down the aisle in a wheel chair,” he said.
Moseley walked down the aisle of Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church when the couple renewed their vows…on schedule.
When Moseley considered his future, he first thought of trying to continue his career in the Marine Corps. When that didn’t work out, he turned to a life-long interest.
“I have always had an interest in computers,” he said. “When I went through transition at the hospital in California, a man came in and said he would teach computers, for free, if anyone was interested. He had about 18 years of experience with 12 years of teaching computer technology.”
Moseley said it renewed his interest and he began studying in earnest. Along the way, he applied for and received as many certifications as possible.
“I’m still going after all the certifications I can,” he said.
Tech Worx Computer Solutions is now the focus of his work efforts where he builds custom computers, repairs computers and laptops (a service Moseley says is relatively rare) and designs networks.
He is currently training on servers to become better versed on the operation and is performing some data recovery. He also has his eye on a field filled with technological challenges.
“I want to become a penetration tester,” he said. “That’s a field where a business hires a hacker to hack their network, then tell them what is wrong with the network. These are ‘White Hat Hackers’ who get into the systems to help improve security.”
Moseley spends as much time as possible with his four-year-old daughter, Lily Grace. “She is my world,” he said. He also enjoys getting outdoors and was planning a four-wheeler trail ride in the immediate future.
He still makes regular trips to the veteran’s hospital where he visits with a psychiatrist and psychologist for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. And, he delivers daily doses of pain medication to one of his best friends, Canvas.
“She is living with us now. She had a couple of injuries from the explosion no one even knew about until almost a year later,” he said. “She has to take medication for her back.”
Moseley doesn’t believe he should be considered anything more than an individual who had a job to do and did it to the best of his ability.
“I was offered the key to the city, but I respectfully turned it down. I don’t feel I deserved that,” he said. “I was happy for the honor, but I didn’t do anything special. I volunteered for the job.”
Now, he said, he hopes to work on computers for anyone who has a problem.
“That’s my job now,” he said.