Veterans John Nelson and Jonathon Blank who served together in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan 10-years ago still love to go hiking – even though one of them lost his legs in combat. Nelson remembers stepping away from where Blank had been standing when an explosive device went off. Blank lost both legs.
“We shared a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get to where we were, and it was all worth it,” Blank told KSTU.
Nelson carried Blank, who weighs 135 lbs, on his back for 14.3 miles, gaining 4,500 feet of elevation to the summit of Mount Timpanogos in Utah.
“I thought this would be something epic for him to experience, to actually get to the saddle,” Nelson said.
Hikers Nate Larid and Phil Casper were coming down the trail when they saw Nelson carrying Blank — both said the sight left them in awe.
“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,” Larid said.
Casper said if this is what Blank and Nelson do for recreation, he can’t even imagine what they were like in combat.
On Veteran’s Day, Blank and Nelson are planning to hike Mount Whitney — the tallest mountain in California at more than 14,500 feet.