The Joshua Chamberlain Society of Houston is honored and pleased to recognize SGT Preston Kaplan as our third hero and humbled to have him join the JCS family. SGT Preston Kaplan is a retired Army Veteran who served his country for 7 years. SGT Kaplan’s wife, SFC Nicole Kaplan is a 12-year Army Veteran. The two met in elementary school and were junior high and high school sweethearts. They have been married for 16yrs.
In October 2005 SGT Kaplan deployed to Yusufiyah Iraq, a small town located within the borders of what is known as the Triangle of Death. He was assigned to Bravo Company 1/502nd Infantry Regiment, 2D Brigade, 101st Airborne Division as an Infantry saw gunner. Their mission was preserving the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. Returning home from deployment in 2006, SGT Kaplan was selected to transfer companies to HHC, 1/502nd IN BN, and become an infantry sniper for the elite scouts platoon. He deployed for his second tour in October 2007 to the Kadhimiya District of Baghdad Iraq.
On April 29th, 2008, while on a convoy mission to relieve another platoon they were hit with EFP (explosive formed projectile) resulting in a severed popliteal artery and peroneal nerve along with shattering his tibia and fibula bone of his right leg. The bones had shattered to the extent of him having to wear an external fixator for nearly five months, out of the 9 months of inpatient recovery. SGT Kaplan received care from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. He endured more than 60 surgeries in hopes of salvaging his leg. Nine months after being discharged, with no feeling below his right knee and continuous wound infections, SGT Kaplan opted to remove his right leg below the knee. Almost 2-1/2 years after his amputation, receiving both inpatient and outpatient care for not only his leg but for his Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), he retired from the military.
SGT Kaplan explains, “I was at an extremely low point in my life, feeling inadequate as a man and husband. I began a downward spiral and had no intention of getting back up. At this point, my wife, who was incredibly loyal, came to me and said, “either change or I’m gone.” This was my wake-up call. I could not continue trying to escape the world and needed to stop taking the unnecessary drugs, get out of my self-pity, and do something; school, gym, anything was better than where I was. She was a great kick in the butt to get me out of the rut I was in.
Finally, out of the hospital and living in Hawaii, I started attending classes and felt a sense of purpose, but still lacking something in my heart that I could not put my finger on. I continued using alcohol and drugs to make me feel “good” for the next few years. Thanks to my wife’s strong devotion to God, I found him and continue to move forward.
Today, as I look back over my life, the childhood anger, absent father, seeking purpose in the wrong things and my injury and battle in the hospital to keep my leg, I now see and accept all these things from God’s perspective. All these now give me an opportunity to share with you.”
The Kaplan’s welcomed their first child, a daughter, in 2018 and are committed to being the best parents they can be. SGT Kaplan stated,” I may not know fully what it means to be a man, but I know what kind of man I want to be; a man of God, a man that won’t let any obstacle stand in the way of a better life, a man that lives a strong and healthy life, not only for me but for my wife and daughter.” The Kaplan’s are excited to announce that they are expecting another baby girl in August 2023.