Solider who lost his legs stands for his father's retirement

Published On: Mar 04 2013 07:24:00 PM HST

With pomp and circumstance and with a room filled to its rims, the ceremony for retiring Col. Y.T. Pak was as it should be.

At the auditorium at the Asian-Pacific Center for Security Studies, his family sat in the front row.

His son Jason was there marking a milestone of his own, making this day extra special.

"It happened in the blink of an eye," began 1st Lt. Jason Pak.

On December 12, 1st Lt. Jason Pak, while on duty in Afghanistan, stepped on an IED.

In that instant, he lost his legs and two fingers, and broke several bones.

"I will never forget that day. I just wanted him to stay alive," said his father Ret. Col. Pak.

Survive he did.

Fight he would.

Over the next two months, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Jason would endure many surgeries.

He would draw inspiration from other wounded soldiers, from his family, from the many visitors, including celebrities and even the president.

"His spirit, his determination to get better, his smiling, was motivation. Those are the things that carried me and my wife," said Pak.

"As I was getting closer and closer, I was thinking I could make it," said Jason.

Days before his dad's retirement, with his new prosthetics packed in luggage, Jason's family escorted him back to Hawaii, as he prepared for a special tribute for his father.

"To be able to make it here and be able to stand for his retirement is really special," he said moments before the ceremony in Honolulu.

When that moment arrived, it would become three moments.

He would stand to accept his award.

He would stand to honor his father.

He would stand to show strength once again.

There stood a soldier, resolute, standing before a father, so proud.

It showed the sacrifice and service in every fiber of this family.

"I know we have to do this. Freedom is not free. Everybody has got to sacrifice and we as a family are stronger because of this," said Ret. Col. Pak.


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