LIVERMORE (KPIX 5) – Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Ross returned to a hero's welcome in Livermore, two years after losing both of his legs in Afghanistan.
Ross returned to Granada High School on Wednesday, where he graduated in 2001. After high school, Ross entered the U.S. Marine Corps and became an explosives technician. He was going places, until he stepped on an improvised explosive device while on patrol in 2011.
Unlike most amputees, Ross did not simply lose a portion of his legs.
"I don't have any legs at all. I am sitting directly on my pelvis," he said. "Think of a Barbie doll. Take the legs off. That's the easiest way I can describe it."
It was an amputation so severe, Ross would undergo 200 surgeries. "In and out of the hospital," he said.
Ross would not see his hometown of Livermore for two years. But when he did return, it was to a hero's welcome. Ross was honored at Wednesday's baseball game at Granada High, complete with a flyover. He also threw out the ceremonial first pitch, along with Army Sgt. Christian Valle, who was injured in the Iraq war.
"It's amazing. For him to come back home and receive a hero's welcome and to feel like he's still a part of this community, I can't imagine how that feels to him," said Pam Hundel, who worked with the Livermore Veterans Foundation to raise $20,000 to give Ross a special gift.
Ross was given a Paramobile, the gift of standing tall once more.
"With that chair, I can actually go do things," Ross said.
Unlike a wheelchair, a Paramobile elevates to allow users to remain upright. Its creators said by doing that, it increases blood circulation and stretches the tendons. For Staff Sgt. Ross, there's another benefit.
"I can actually play with my kids. I can go to the park, go in the sand, go to the swing set, chase them on the beach," Ross said.
That is exactly what Ross did recently. It was a moment his father, George, will never forget. "It melted us," George Ross said. "It's a new way of life"
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