By Ashley Yarchin
Point Loma, CA (KSDK) - He was a Marine fighting for our freedom in Afghanistan when two IED explosions injured four members of his squad and killed another.
We first told you about Lance Cpl. Chris Van Etten in June, when his parents were on their way to see their son for the first time since losing his legs. Three months later, doctors call the corporal's progress nothing short of amazing.
It all happened five days before he arrived at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, California on June 18.
"Everything went silent, turned gray, I was dazed for 15 to 20 second," Van Etten recalled. "I had no idea who I was or where I was even at."
But he quickly realized the new normal meant he no longer had the legs he was born with.
"I literally just said, 'well, this sucks,' and I kinda chuckled a little bit, trying to keep from freaking out," he said.
"Not to say it's not different looking at his legs now, but it doesn't matter, he's here," said Leigh Van Etten, Chris' mother.
Has has been at her son's side through all the emotion and all of those hours of physical therapy cheering him on. Saturday morning, however, the 21-year-old was finally able to return the favor, as his mother ran a half marathon with Team EXTREME, an organization that raises awareness and funds for wounded warriors.
"When I came down the last hill, I saw him sitting at the corner waiting for me and then I was just going to give him a hug but he got up out of his chair," she said. "He said, 'Do you mind if I walk this in with you?'"
"It was one of my most emotional halves and one that I will never ever forget," Leigh said about crossing the finish line with her wounded warrior.
"Without her support and without her being there for me, not just when I got hurt, pretty much the last 21 years, I wouldn't be the man I am today without he," Chris said.
Chris will be in rehab out in California likely for another year. By then, his mom hopes he'll be running half marathons, too.
To help Chris, visit http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/171200
You can also check out Leigh's blog about her journey with Chris at http://amisfitsmothersjourney.blogspot.com/