‘An inspiration’: Veteran paralyzed in Iraq dies surrounded by love

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A West Michigan Marine who was paralyzed in Iraq died Monday at the age of 39 due to complications from his injury.

“He was an inspiration to all of us,” said Bill White, friend of Marine Cpl. Joshua Hoffman.

The Hastings resident was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet while fighting in Iraq in 2007.

“Shots rang out and they all hit the ground and so did Josh,” White said. “But Josh got shot through the back of his neck.”

Unable to move from the neck down, the 26-year-old returned to West Michigan where he faced a new battle: adjusting to life as a quadriplegic.

Fortunately for Hoffman, the community was quick to embrace the American hero. In 2009, hundreds of people gathered to welcome Hoffman to his new house built through Home for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building houses for wounded and disabled veterans.

“It was a labor of love,” White said.

Surrounded by that same love and support, Hoffman died Monday at a hospital in Grand Rapids. He’d been hospitalized since August, receiving treatment for complications due to his injury.

Hoffman leaves behind a legacy fit for an American hero.

An undated courtesy photo of Cpl. Joshua Hoffman.

“The thing that struck me most about Josh was his positive attitude through all of it,” Caledonia American Legion Memorial Post Commander Jim McConnan said. “He had an indomitable attitude and that’s something that everybody who came in contact with him knew.”

Following his passing, there’s been an outpouring of support and love on social media. Dozens of people posting to the “I Support Cpl. Joshua Hoffman” page on Facebook.

“I first met Josh when I worked in the ICU. I admired his drive and determination,” Cathy Kutschinski posted.

Many of the tributes were from fellow veterans. All of them remembering Hoffman as a fighter.

“There’s no such thing as a former Marine and he typified that, he was a Marine through and through,” McConnan said.

Funeral arrangements have been shared to the Facebook page.

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