View Full Version : Mystery hero was homeless veteran

06-23-06, 08:33 AM

Friday, June 23, 2006


Copyright 2006 Republican-American

MIDDLEBURY -- Charlie Larkin and Joe Soukup were jackhammering stones to prepare a foundation last Friday when they heard a tree fall and a chainsaw stop in a neighboring yard.

Larkin, a general contractor, and Soukup, his longtime friend and a homeless Vietnam veteran, were setting the footings for an addition to a home at 1706 Middlebury Road.

"When he comes to visit me he helps out," Larkin said Thursday. "I buy him dinners and give him a place to stay."

The pair had noticed the sound of the chainsaw that morning, but what they didn't yet know was that Juanito Josef, 64, of 1738 Middlebury Road, had just nearly lost his leg.

The tree Josef was cutting down kicked back as it fell and pinned his leg against another tree, leaving the leg dangling by its skin.

Larkin stepped forward Thursday to talk about what happened next, when Soukup likely saved Josef's life with his quick thinking and fast action. Soukup served in combat with the Marines for 13 months in Vietnam, beginning in 1967, and had some medical training.

"It was his veteran instincts that saved this guy," said Larkin. "I was a shaky squirrel on the telephone."

Larkin said there were no screams, just a faint cry that Friday morning. Soukup called out to the man neither of them could see, and a reply came back, "I'm hurt, my leg."

"That's when the action started," said Larkin.

The two men began to jog toward the neighboring yard when Soukup told Larkin to get on the cell phone, so he stayed behind to call for help.

"He came running back and said, 'Charlie, it's bad. The guy ain't going to make it if I can't stop the bleeding,'" Larkin said.

Soukup had found Josef crawling toward the sound of their construction work, as no one else was around. He ran to his truck, which has also been home for the past two years, and grabbed a Bungee cord to use as a tourniquet, but it broke.

Soukup ran to his truck a second time and found a rope and a towel. Tying off the severed leg, Soukup stayed with Josef until emergency personnel arrived, comforting him with a pillow from his truck and giving him water to drink, said Larkin.

"He even got the guy laughing a little bit," said Larkin.

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06-23-06, 08:34 AM
Larkin estimated it took his friend seven or eight minutes to stop the bleeding. "He had blood up to his shoulders and all over his knees and legs," said Larkin. "I had to hose him down."

Mirasol Josef said Thursday that without Soukup's help she believed her husband would be dead. "That's how much he has done for my husband," she said.

She said her husband was going into the operating room at Waterbury Hospital for the fifth time in six days Thursday so surgeons could clean out more of the bark and sawdust that has been causing infections.

Mirasol Josef, 63, has worked for the hospital as a lab technologist for 38 years. Her husband is retired from the textiles industry.

Josef said she was at work last Friday when co-workers told her Juanito had been brought in with an injury. "I was shaking like a leaf," she said.

Josef said that while her husband has feeling in his reattached leg and can wiggle his toes, doctors don't yet know if he'll be able to walk on the leg again. She said he already has four screws in his knee, which will have to be replaced with an artificial knee once his leg heals.

In addition, doctors plan to insert a permanent plate in Josef's leg to hold his broken thigh bones together. He also will need skin grafts and extensive rehabilitation, but everything is on hold until the infection clears. Mirasol Josef estimated it would take a year for her husband to recover.

"It's truly marvelous, they have been so good to him," Josef said of the hospital. "They are doing a super job on him."

The Josefs, who came to the United States from the Philippines in 1968, have two children, Theresa, 31, and John, 37. Josef said her daughter wrote a "beautiful letter" to Soukup, the only way to get in touch with him on Long Island, where he stays. Soukup is a Trumbull native and once lived in Southbury, where Larkin now lives.

"When everything is settled we probably will have to do something for Joe," Mirasol Josef said.

Larkin said Mirasol Josef and her daughter already thanked Soukup personally, with tears in their eyes, and that his friend wasn't looking for anything more. "I just want you to know he's had a hard life and is having a hard time now, but he's a really good guy with a really big heart," said Larkin. "To him, (Josef) was a human being who needed help."



06-23-06, 10:01 AM
Semper Fi Joe Soukup! :usmc:

06-23-06, 04:36 PM
NEVER leave. 24/7,365, forever.

Semper Fi


PS, Just doing our YOB!:thumbup:

06-23-06, 04:46 PM

06-23-06, 05:39 PM
Outstanding , Semper Fi!

06-23-06, 08:26 PM
This Marine makes me proud to belong to the Brotherhood of the Corps.