By AMBLE SMOKER
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Staff Sergeant Joshua Rory Welch, an EBCI tribal member, enlisted in the United States Army in June 2003 and completed Basic Training at Fort Sill, Okla. He entered Advance Individual Training-Field Artillery, and upon completion, he was deployed to South Korea. In 2005, his unit was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and redeployment again in 2008 where fighting in Iraq was a daily venture.
In February 2005, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, his unit, Task Force Iron Rakkasans, conducted counterinsurgency operations in Paktika and Ghazni Afghanistan that crossed five lines of effort: Governance, Development, Agriculture, Security, and Information engagement.
On June 16, 2010, SSGT Welch was wounded in action. He was one of five soldiers patrolling in a mine resistant vehicle searching the outskirts of a village harboring Taliban soldiers. An improvised explosive device detonated under the vehicle transporting Welch. The mine resistant vehicle was completely destroyed in explosion, which resulted in two occupants being killed in action and the others suffering severe wounds. A medevac crew transported SSGT Welch from Kandahar Afghanistan to Llanstuhl Army Hospital in Germany. From that base, he has since returned to Fort Campbell, Ky. where he is being treated for his wounds sustained in combat.
SSGT Joshua R. Welch is extremely proud of his Cherokee cultural heritage, and he holds dear Cherokee traditions that are such an important part of both his personal and professional life.
For his service, SSGT Welch has been awarded the following decoration and awards: Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal 6th Award, Army Achievement Medal 6th Award, Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Ribbon 4th Award, Global War on Terrorism Award, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, Air Assault Badge, Expert Marksmen’s Badge, Professional Leadership Development Course 4th Award, and the 101st Airborne Division Combat Patch.