Wounded war hero returns home to Indiana

January 20, 2011 10:00:00 PM PST
Sgt. John Masson, who lost both his legs and one arm when he stepped on a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, returned to his native Indiana Friday night.

Masson is fighting to recover and start a new life, and this weekend a benefit will be held in his honor.

The Afghanistan war hero arrived home on a jet provided by a private citizen to a cheering crowd of family and friends. He was overwhelmed.

"We thought trying to raise money for his future and his kids' future would be beneficial," said Masson's friend Jerry Koonce. "It's helped us in a lot of ways, as far as we feel like we're doing something."

Masson and his family will be attending the benefit Saturday at the American Legion in Lake Station, Ind.

Masson, a combat medic, gave information to a junior medic that helped that medic save Masson's life when he was injured.

"Being left with one arm to wipe his daughter's tears and hold his wife's hand is just a blessing in itself and I do believe that John feels the same way," said Masson's brother-in-law Ian Paris.

Despite the severity of the injury, Masson has not lost his spirit and sense of humor, and he is determined to walk again. The 39-year-old is married with three children.

"He has to beat everybody at everything, he has to win, he has to come out strongest and on top, and he will," said his sister-in-law Kerry Paris.

Sgt. 1st Class Masson did a stint in the U.S. Army as a Special Forces Medic, including service in Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Then he went full time with the National Guard and moved to North Carolina.

"At Christmas time, he takes the Christmas lights and designs the American flag on top of his roof," said Masson's childhood friend Tim Catherman. "He is just the ultimate patriot, the ultimate friend, the ultimate brother."

The fundraiser for Masson is 1 to 11 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion in Lake Station, Ind. They hope to raise $100,000, and on Friday, they were able to raise $15,000 at the gate at U.S. Field.