Wounded soldier returns to say thanks - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wounded soldier returns to thank the Menomonie community

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Menomonie (WQOW)- A powerful scene unfolded at an area high school Friday morning.  An American hero who lost both of his legs in battle in Afghanistan, returned to Menomonie High School to talk with students.  It was a proper welcome for a hero's return. 

Menomonie high school students were excited and anxious to hear from Second Lieutenant Jason Church.

Church played football at Menomonie High School and then later at UW-La Crosse.  He was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan, where he lost both his legs to a roadside bomb.

But on Friday, it wasn't the high school that asked Jason to come.  It was the other way around.

"The gifts, the letters, the appreciation; I honestly felt like I needed to say something," Church says.  "I was in La Crosse a few months ago and I really didn't say anything in Menomonie.  So I asked them to be able to do that; to talk to the student body and members of the community to be able to say thank you."

You could have heard a pin drop throughout the entire talk.  Eyes locked on Church as he retold the story of how he was injured.

"I just really wanted them to understand that they have an opportunity in front of them that is greater than anywhere else in the world," replies Church.  "There have been men and women that have died for this country and to squander that opportunity is actually the most insulting thing you can do.  Take advantage of it."

At the end, Church did something remarkable.  He got out of his chair with the help of his titanium prosthetics and delivered the finishing moments of his speech, standing up, proud and tall.

"I hope it shows to them that no matter what comes in front of them in their life, they can overcome," says Church.  "That whatever hurdles are thrown in front of you, it's not a roadblock.  You can jump over it."

Second Lieutenant Church is well on his way.  He is going back to La Crosse Friday night for a benefit that will be held in his honor Saturday night put on by the UW-La Crosse football team.  He says he plans to get artificial blades similar to what Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius has to get him back on his feet, and he says he even hopes to run a marathon one day.

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