BOSTON - After losing his leg in combat, a San Antonio Marine put his determination on display as he ran across the finish line at 2017 Boston Marathon holding an American flag.
Jose Luis Sanchez was born and raised in San Antonio. He told KENS 5 via Skype he carried the same American flag his unit carried for him on the battlefield in Afghanistan all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon on Monday.
Sanchez lost his left leg after he stepped on an IED in 2011 while serving in Afghanistan.
“Physically, I’m a train wreck,” Sanchez said. “You ask me personally, ‘would I want to do a marathon, a run?’ No I would not do it. ‘Would I want to do it to inspire others?’ 100 percent yes, hands down.”
The image of him hobbling through gritted teeth, American flag held high, has gone coast-to-coast.
“It was sent to me in the hospital. I received it, it was filled with letters and all sorts of stuff. But I put it away, I put it back,” Sanchez said. “I couldn’t stand up for more than 3 seconds.”
Filled with shame and unable to serve, Sanchez said he hit the gym.
And after four years of pushing himself, he learned a new kind of strength.
"It’s okay to show your vulnerabilities man...it wasn’t me running, it was you all. It was the flag and it was everything it represented," Sanchez said.
The patriot who calls San Antonio home, even trains at Lone Star CrossFit according to his Instagram page.
He’s become an internet sensation through social media, motivating his followers with fitness and inspirational posts.
The heartfelt moment has since gone viral across social media. Sanchez said he’s just doing what god “spared” him for.
Sanchez and his wife, Dulce, said they’re taking the flag back to San Antonio.
© 2017 KENS-TV