- Army Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson will be sitting in the box with first lady Michelle Obama for Tuesday's State of the Union
- Since losing both legs, Gibson has learned to surf, ski, and raced in four marathons
- Gibson also got his pilot license, and he and his wife recently their first child, a daughter
An Army combat engineer from Ohio, Army Staff Sgt. Jason Gibson's job was to clear the road of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
"One guy had the metal detector, and if anything got a hit we'd check it out," Gibson said. "We wanted to make sure the rest of the troops moving through were safe. We wanted to make sure it was us first."
Gibson enlisted in 2005 hoping for a long career in the military following in the footsteps of his two grandfathers.
But all that changed on a spring day in 2012 during his third tour. While on patrol in Panjwayi Province near Kandahar in Afghanistan, Gibson knelt down on top of on an IED, which detonated.
"All I saw was red," he said. "I remember everything until they put me in the helicopter."
Gibson's injuries were so severe he was kept in a medically-induced coma for two weeks. The Army flew his wife and parents to Germany so they could say their goodbyes.
Incredibly, Gibson survived. He lost both legs in the blast, and underwent 21 surgeries.
While he was recovering at Walter Reed, the staff sergeant got a visit from Commander in Chief President Barack Obama.
"I was still loopy from the drugs. But I was just glaring at him, because he was hugging my wife, he was talking to my mom," said Gibson. "But it didn't really register what was going on."
This year Gibson wrote the President a letter thanking him for the visit, and to tell him how far he has come since that Walter Reed visit.
"That was my worst time, and I wanted (him to know) this is everything I've done to, I guess, to better myself," said Gibson.
His recovery has been astounding. Since his injury, he has surfed, skied, kayaked, fished, hunted, and raced in four marathons on the hand cycle. He has also gotten his private pilot's license. And he and his wife recently welcomed their first baby.
"There is life after a traumatic event and good can come of all things," he wrote in the letter to President Obama.
Obama wrote back, and the White House invited Gibson to come as a guest to Tuesday's State of the Union.
In December, Gibson, his wife, and their daughter moved into a custom built home for severely wounded veterans provided by the non-profit Homes for Our Troops. He's even got a rig to shovel his own driveway with a wheel chair powered plow.
"It's been great. I can finally do the laundry, help out, and do the work. I don't know if that's a good thing," he says with a laugh.
Gibson's spirit seems truly unbreakable.
"I just want to show people there is life after a traumatic event. There's always a way to move on," he said.