When the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Reconnaissance Battalion received orders to deploy to Afghanistan, Sgt. Jonathon Blank could have stayed home. He was close to finishing his active duty. But to make sure he could deploy with his buddies, he extended his service and went with his Marine battalion to Helmand province.
"They were like, 'we really need you.' I didn't really have to think much of it. I said, 'yeah I'll go.' I wasn't going to let my guys go without me. Because if something happened to one of them, I'd always think, 'could I hve been there to change something? Could I have been there to help them?' And besides, this is the chance to serve."
In the video above, Sgt. Blank talks about the events of October 26, 2010, the day a blast resulted in the loss of both of his legs and caused serious internal injuries.
"I was like ok, something bad just happened, but I didn't know what. Then eventually, I started to regain consciousness, it was like waking up from a dream. There's all this smoke and dust covered everything. I started crawling because I knew my legs were gone instantly before I even looked at them, I knew. Then the pain just washed over me, I knew that was it."
Since then, he's been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
"I always liked my hometown, like I always knew there were a lot of great people there. There's a couple of people that love me there, but I didn't know that the whole town would come together like they have."
Along with the fundraisers, he also receives get well cards and letters from people all over the country.
"When I have my days that I'm down, it lifts me up, makes me feel better." He explains that it reminds him of what his well-being means to people. "You gotta do this, not for yourself, but for them too."
Jonathon is expected to be in the hospital for at least one more year. But he's happy that he has the support and love from his hometown, which he can't wait to see again.
Sgt. Blank got that wish this week. He was granted a month's leave and is back home in Augusta, Kansas.
Recovering Marine updates supporters back home via Skype
Thanks to KSCW-TV for their ongoing coverage of Sgt. Blank's recovery. Kansas must be a great place. No wonder Jonathon couldn't wait to get back!