Central Texas Heroes: John Footman

Published: May. 6, 2016 at 12:20 PM CDT
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He was told he wouldn't walk again after getting injured in Vietnam.

But one Central Texas veteran not only recovered but ended up serving in the Army for two decades.

John Footman's military journey began at full speed right after basic training.

"Went straight to Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division and they made me a squad leader right away," Footman told us.

He could never know he would remain in the Army from 1967 to 1987 especially since he didn't know if he would get to come home at all.

Footman told us, "when I went out on patrols I set my people up where we would sit, sitting up back to back. If somebody was falling asleep, you would nudge them in the side. I would tell my soldiers, hey, we can get some sleep when we get back to the fire base, but if you want to stay alive you need to keep your eyes open. "

They looked out for each other but he lost many brothers on the battlefield.

"My best buddy got shot and I watched him die, I talked to him until he was gone," Footman said, "sometimes when I'm at home, I think about this because he was like a brother to me. He had planned a big wedding, I had seen pictures of his wife to be. It was hard."

And he didn't escape the Viet Cong's bullets getting shot in the left leg in his first tour.

He made it home alive but before he knew it he was back in Vietnam again.

And this time his injuries were far more serious.

"I had been up there for about 30 days and I got hit again. I hit a 60 pound mine, put me in the hospital," he said, "I was told by the doctors that I wouldn't walk anymore."

But that wasn't something he would accept.

He got a walker, and started pushing himself to recover.

He's walking today but he's still dealing with medical conditions from exposure to Agent Orange.

Today he looks around and sees other veterans still struggling with PTSD and homelessness.

And Footman wants all Americans to show veterans the respect they have earned.

"If you see a Vietnam Veteran, thank him. If he needs help, help him. We got too many of them sleeping on the streets and a lot are Vietnam veterans. Give them support, give the family support that lost their husband, lost their sons or lost their grandsons," Footman told us.