WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Jonathon Blank grew up in the small town of Augusta, Kansas.

Like many true Kansans, he developed a love for hunting and adventure at a young age, and ever since he was a little boy, he knew he wanted to serve his country.

“It was our last patrol. We had about four days left to cease combat operations,” said Blank. 

Once he was old enough, Blank joined the Marine Corps. 

In 2010, just days away from finishing his tour in Afghanistan, Blank had no idea his life was about to change forever. 

In the blink of an eye, he took his very last step.

“I stepped on an IED at about eight o'clock in the morning... Once that happened, it immediately severed both my legs and also damaged my left arm pretty significantly," said Blank. 

Medics rushed Blank back to the states where he continued fighting for his life through countless dangerous surgeries. 

But little did he know, the hardest part was yet to come. 

“I do have a reluctance to ask for help,” said Blank.  

Blank spent the next several years trying his best to adjust to his new normal, constantly fighting feelings of depression and worthlessness. 

Then one day, he decided that enough was enough. 

“You have to learn to accept that things are different. You have to learn to accept help,” said Blank. 

Ten years later, blank ended up at a Utah hunting event in 2020, and he was about to discover just how small the world truly is. 

“He says oh, you got to meet our guide. You know, he’s badass, you know, from Alaska. And they're like, I think he's from Kansas, too,” said Blank. 

“He came up to me and just said, hey man, are you from Kansas? Yeah man, I'm from Kansas. He's like, me too! I'm from Wichita. I was like oh shoot, I'm from Pratt,” said Cole Kramer. 

Kramer grew up in Pratt and spent his entire childhood helping his recently retired fire chief dad, David Kramer, run the town's fire department. 

As if growing up a short drive away from each other and meeting a thousand miles from home wasn’t weird enough, Kramer just happens to now be a hunting guide in Alaska, something that’s always been at the top of Blank’s bucket list. 

“I wanted to do one of the big like, North American game animals. And Alaska has just about all of it,” said Blank. 

“You know, I told him like, hey man, you've sacrificed enough. Get on my back. I've got it,” said Kramer. 

After months of preparing for the grueling multi-day hunt, Blank strapped up on Kramer’s new custom backpack, and the two set out for what would become the best trip of their lives. 

“Just going along and having a conversation with Jonathon, you know, up on the ridge line or hiking through and just, hearing him say, wow man, look at those rocks over there! Wow, look at those sheep! Look at the caribou! And just, you know, it breaks your heart that someone like that can't do it on their own,” said Kramer. 

But Kramer says blank is as tough as they come, and after days of crossing treacherous terrain, it was time to take the shot, And no words could describe the feeling that washed over them with that gentle pull of the trigger. 

Above all else, Blank and Kramer say they hope their story will remind other suffering veterans that, no matter how hard it might feel in the moment, you’re never alone. 

“Our biggest goal on this is to, you know, inspire others to get veterans out and to get them hunting… Maybe a guy here in Kansas that has a chunk of land with some deer and some turkeys, you know, some waterfowl, there's a guy out there just waiting to get the invite to go do such a thing,” said Kramer. 

“I don't know how to express it, because it's just so, it's just huge. It's amazing. Like I still can't believe it even happened. And will always have those memories. And hopefully, that can spur others to go out there and do good to help other people in those situations.”

The team at SITKA Gear followed Blank and Kramer’s full adventure during their latest trip, and recently released a short film about it. Watch the full movie below or click here.