22 January 2011

"That's him! That's the hero!"

John Masson makes his way through well wishers Friday as he heads into the Porter County Airport terminal after arriving home for the first time since being seriously injured in Afghanistan in October. Photo: Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune.

A Hero comes home.

At 5:46 p.m., the crowd watched a small plane land on the dark runway. Masson's three kids, Jonathan, Morgan and Ethan, peeked through the tiny windows at a crowd that yelled, whistled and applauded before mobilizing into action.

"That's him!" one boy yelled. "That's the hero."

The donated plane used to fly Masson and his family came via Veterans Airlift Command, a wonderful program that provides free air transportation to wounded veterans and their families.

Flanked by his wife and kids, Masson's wheelchair rolled through the impromptu field of honor, with American flags waving above. Veterans saluted. Men cheered. Women cried. It was one of those rare goose bump moments in life.

"Welcome home, John!" a friend yelled.

Masson smiled the whole way inside, recognizing a few faces while not having a clue about dozens of other strangers who showed up, just because. With both legs missing, he leaned up to give hugs to several people, wrapping his prosthetic left arm around their neck as best he could.

"This is why we do what we do," he said, referring to military personnel who write a blank check to Uncle Sam when they enlist. "I'd do it all again."

Someone mentioned Masson's well-known determination to walk again and the crowd erupted.

Dustina was asked her reaction to the hero homecoming, but emotions choked her reply.

Covering for his wife of 18 years, Masson told the crowd, "Thank you all so much for coming out."

"Thank you for our freedom," one man replied instantly.

Masson kissed his wife and, as the bright [TV] lights shut off, said, "God bless America."

Grab a tissue and read the rest of this terrific story at the Indiana Post-Tribune.

From John's web site, where you can find out more about his recovery with lots of great photos, leave a message in his guest book, or make a donation:

SGT 1st Class John Masson was recently wounded in Afghanistan. John has proudly served our Armed Forces for 11 years. The first of those four years were served in the Army and the last seven with the National Guard. He is a Ranger tabbed Special Forces Medic who is also a Veteran of Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

On Saturday, October 16th, 2010, John's life changed forever.

John Masson, our hero, our friend, sacrificed 3 extremities in Afghanistan, for their freedom, as well for The United States of America - Land of the Free - Home of the Brave. His courage and dedication for our country allows all to sleep in peace at night which goes way beyond our call of duty. Along with our appreciation of all of the Armed Forces, sometimes our freedom comes at the price of death as we are so thankful that John is still here alive today. Despite the severity of his of his injuries - John said, "I will walk again". If anyone knows him personally - HE WILL!!!

Update, just found the story at the website of his local TV station, CBS Chicago.


Anonymous said...

Great story. I was the medic on his medevac bird. Glad he made it out of the Arghandab, a lot of folks didn't.

MaryAnn said...

Thank you for helping to bring him home!