FORT CARSON, Colo. (CBS4) - A young soldier, whose leg was crushed in the 2010 catastrophic earthquake in Haiti, was recently treated for a serious problem in that same leg. Junior Tunis is grateful to his doctors in Denver.
And he is proud to serve the nation that gave him hope and a home.
"I would say I'm blessed, I'm lucky to be here today," Tunis told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.
He is with Fort Carson's 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Spc. Tunis is realizing a dream, 10 years after surviving a nightmare.
"I thought I would die," said Tunis.
More than 220,000 people were killed in the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Tunis, 14 at the time, was one of 300,000 injured.
"I was under the concrete," he said. "I was trapped in there for like eight hours."
His right leg was mangled.
"Basically you could see the bone come out from it," Tunis said.
He had surgery in Haiti, then 15 operations in Miami.
"It was a lot of pain. I was crying most of the time," he explained.
A year later in Florida, through an interpreter, Tunis talked with CBS.
"I have to say praise to God, and I have to say thank you," he said.
In 2019, Tunis joined the army, a goal he set after admiring U. S. troops in Haiti.
"They was helping out. I feel like this is something I wanted to do. I want to be like those guys," he said.
In March 2020, pain in his leg sent Tunis to specialists in Denver.
"This is an aggressive, but benign tumor that you can see has eaten away at a significant portion of his lower leg," said Dr. Daniel Lerman, orthopedic oncologist at Presbyterian St. Lukes's Medical Center.
Lerman removed the tumor and put in bone cement and a metal plate. Tunis emerged the resilient survivor once again.
"If you pray enough, and if you dedicate to your dream, there's nothing you cannot complete," said Tunis.
He dreams of returning to Haiti someday to do for his community what U.S. soldiers did for him.
for more features.