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Double amputee reenlists to help his fellow paratroopers

Photo By Sgt. Michelle Blesam | U.S. Army Sgt. Jon Harmon, left, one of two double amputees on active duty and a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, recites the Oath of Enlistment during his reenlistment ceremony given by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Michael E. Kurilla, right, the 82nd Abn. Div. commander, at the Division headquarters on Fort Bragg, June 20, 2018. Harmon reenlisted to continue his tenure as the division’s liaison to mentor, guide and inspire paratroopers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michelle U. Blesam)
June 29, 2018
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FORT BRAGG, North Carolina – On June 7, 2012, Sgt. Jonathan Harmon and his team of paratroopers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, established a fire support position in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, when things turned for the worst.

“My right foot depressed a pressure plate resulting in the traumatic amputation of both my legs above the knee,” said Harmon, an infantryman with the 82nd Abn. Div. “I remained conscious and applied my tourniquets.”

Six years later, Harmon stood at the position of attention to recommit his service to the nation and recited the Military Oath of Enlistment at the 82nd Abn. Div. headquarters building on Fort Bragg, June 20, 2018.

A Cedarville, California-native, Harmon said he did it again to help his fellow paratroopers.

“That was my job at Walter Reed,” said Harmon, the liaison noncommissioned officer for the All American Division at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.

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“Especially after, you know,” he said as he looked down and knocked on one of his prosthetics. “I was good to go. I thought I’d return the favor and help them out.”

Harmon leads, mentors and provides inspiration to our paratroopers as the Division’s liaison at WRNMMC.

“He consistently talks about the Soldiers that he cares for while he is over there at Walter Reed providing motivation and assistance both spiritually, physically and mentally,” said Sgt. 1st Class Freddy Mexicanos, the 82nd Abn. Div. noncommissioned officer in charge for the division’s medical operations.

This was Harmon’s second reenlistment in the Army. However, seven years ago an encounter with U.S. Army Gen. John F. Campbell at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center turned things around for him.

As Harmon was talking to the 34th Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, he asked the general what he should do in his situation.

“He said, ‘You should stay in the Army’,” Harmon recalled. “He really was a big influencing factor and I reached a point where I couldn’t see myself not putting my uniform on every morning.”

Harmon began the process to stay in active duty despite his injuries and finally got accepted in the Continuation of Active Duty (COAD) program in 2014.

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Harmon had a history of being what some would say stubborn but others would say committed.

His competitive nature was rooted to his upbringing.

“I was hardworking and motivated,” said Harmon. “I was big into FFA (Future Farmers of America), the welding team and all that too. I won state Northern California Welder of the Year one year”

Harmon’s fighting spirit and tenacity carried through despite having had 74 surgeries done at the age of 20.

“Since we’ve known each other he’s been extremely motivated and adamant about being a paratrooper and infantryman,” said Mexicanos, a Los Angeles-native.

Harmon’s commitment to the paratroopers and anyone in need is his driving force to stay in the military.

Mexicanos, who is Harmon’s direct line supervisor, described Harmon as committed.

“He is committed to ensuring that those he cares for, his Soldiers, family and all the wounded warriors, can be completely taken care of regardless of the situation,” said Mexicanos.

Harmon’s dedication to helping wounded veterans extends to his love of riding a motorcycle.

“I had ridden bikes a little bit prior to getting injured,” Harmon said. “But I really got into it afterwards because it’s so freeing.”

After the amount of money and time modifying his motorcycle, this inspired him and a friend to help wounded veterans modify their bikes.

“My point of staying in the military is just to help these paratroopers and make sure they’re squared away,” said Harmon. “That’s literally the sole purpose.”

This article originally published on DVIDS.

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