A Marine veteran who lost his legs during combat in Afghanistan was able to make it to the top of a Utah mountain thanks to the help of his fellow Marine.
Retired Marine Sgt. John Nelson and retired Staff Sgt. Jonathon Blank have been friends since they served together for ten years in the Marine corps in the special operations unit, KSTU reported.
While they served in Afghanistan, Blank lost his legs when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated right next to him.
Nelson remained nearby when the explosion happened.
“We shared a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we were, and it was all worth it,” Blank said.
Since then, they have shared an unbreakable bond— to the point where they would climb mountains together.
Nelson had been driving by the mountain when he thought about carrying Blank to the top.
“I thought this would be something epic for him to experience, to actually get to the saddle,” Nelson told KSTU.
The retired Marine eventually made it to Utah while traveling around the U.S. to visit friends and national parks, and he knew that his fellow Marine dreamed of making it to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, CNN reported.
Nelson eventually carried Blank— who weighs 135 pounds— on his back for the 14.3-mile hike up the mountain. Although the Marines said they were used to carrying 80 pounds on their back, the journey was difficult for both men.
Nelson said the journey left him with a lot of pressure on his shoulders while Blank said he lost circulation in his lower body and felt his arms go numb around Nelson’s neck.
But both men reached the summit around 8 p.m. on August 24, WFTS reported.
The two veterans hope that their experience would encourage others to accomplish anything they hope to achieve.
“Not only have I lived through this, but we’re also special operations guys,” Blank said. “We can do anything. We can maybe instill that mindset into other people.”
This is not the last time the veterans plan to hike a mountain. The two veterans are already planning to hike Mount Whitney, California’s tallest mountain, on Veteran’s Day, WHDH reported.