Veteran Carries Fellow Marine Up A Mountain After He Lost His Legs In Afghanistan

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Marine Staff Sgt. Jonathon Blank lost his legs while touring in Afghanistan. This occurred when an improvised explosive device detonated next to him in October 2010. Several years later, he doesn’t keep this from letting him live the best life he possibly can. He retired from the Marines in 2014 and still enjoys activities such as hunting, sailing, and skiing.

Recently, Blank chose to hike to the top of Mount Timpanogos. His marine buddy, John Nelson, carried Blank on his back to help him achieve this feat. It was more than a 14-mile hike to make it up the mountain with an elevation change of about 4,500 feet, but the pair never gave up.

Veteran carries fellow Marine and good friend up a mountain for a hike after he lost legs

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Other hikers in the area noticed the two and were impressed by their dedication, not only to the hike but to each other. One of the hikers, Nate Larid, spoke to news outlets about witnessing the pair. “When you see that, you see that determination for them to do what they do, and you want to do that for you and your families,” he says.

“Most people quit when pain is involved. And it means more because I’m injured,” Blank says. “We were so determined… We didn’t get into special operations being quitters.”

The two former Marines continue to live exciting lives

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Because Blank and Nelson were Marines, they became used to carrying rucksacks weighing 80 pounds. However, Nelson was carrying Blank in addition to water and supplies, which equates to about 145 pounds total. Blank says that he, Nelson, and the rest of the platoon members are still like “brothers” and constantly get back together for more adventures.

Nelson has been taking the world by storm since retiring. He has been traveling all across the U.S. visiting both friends and national parks! However, the day that he and Blank hiked up the mountain together was most important for him.

The friends have future plans for more hiking and mountain climbing together

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Nelson and Blank are already planning to climb Mount Whitney to mark Veteran’s Day on November 11th this year. For that specific expedition, they plan to have other platoon members join them! It’s clear that no matter the injury, Blank does not intend to live a less-than-dynamic life.

“I had wanted to be an elite commando since I was a little kid, and all that got taken away with my injury,” Blank says. “I just want to uphold that reconnaissance community.”

Learn more about Blank’s life before and after the IED blast that cost him his legs:

This story originally appeared at Do You Remember by Jane Kenney.

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