OGDEN, Utah (KSTU/CNN) – Two veterans who served in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan together still love to go hiking — even though one of them lost his legs in combat.
“A few days ago, I drove by and said you know what? I think I’m going to take Jon to the top of that, by myself,” Marine Corps veteran John Nelson said.
It takes a special kind of brotherhood to carry 135 pounds of weight on your shoulders up 14.3 miles of steep terrain.
“We shared a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we were and it was all worth it,” Jonathan Blank said.
Blank and Nelson served in the special operations unit of the Marine Corps together in Afghanistan.
Ten years ago, Nelson had stepped away from where Blank was standing when an explosive device went off.
“I thought this would be something epic for him to experience, to actually get to the saddle,” Nelson said.
It was an emotional trip for Blank, but also for fellow hikers who passed by.
Hiker Phil Casper said, “If that’s what they’re doing for recreation, imagine those guys on the battlefield.”
Nate Larid said, “When you see that, you see that determination for them to do what they do, you want to do that for your friends and family.”
Blank hopes to spark similar inspiration in anyone who thinks they can’t accomplish something.
“Not only have I lived through this, but we’re also Special Operations guys. We can do anything. We can maybe instill that mindset into other people,” he said.
The next hike John and Jonathan are planning is for Veterans Day and they’re hiking Mt. Whitney.