A Delano Marine who came home from the war a double amputee, has reached a major milestone in his recovery. Corporal Jorge Salazar walked on his prosthetic legs Thursday for the first time since he was wounded in Afghanistan.
"I've been waiting for this since the day I woke up," said Corporal Jorge Salazar.
Salazar slipped on his new prosthetic legs Thursday and gripped the parallel bars. He stood tall in his red and white Jordan sneakers and proudly looked in the mirror.
"How does it feel to be standing up? You're tall!" said Brian Zalewski, a prosthetist.
"Yeah, I feel tall," replied Salazar, who spent the last two months in short prosthetic legs.
"Just like when I got my stubbies, I want to get out and start running already, which I tried to and I fell, but I'm sure I'll get off those bars today," explained Salazar.
"Once they get up and get going, as much as they want to be walking, they want to be running," said Brian Zalewski, Director of C5 Prosthetics at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
"It's important to emphasize we have to work at the basics and build up that strength," he continued.
Salazar lost his strength five months ago in Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, which shattered his legs. The Marines in Salazar's platoon saved his life, but they couldn't save his limbs.
Instead of protecting his platoon, he now spends his days at Naval Medical Center San Diego.
As part of his rehabilitation, Salazar does exercises to strengthen his upper body.
A prosthetics team built Salazar's new legs in a workshop just a few feet away from the physical therapy room. It's a one-stop shop for wounded warriors.
"People always ask me what I think about my job and I think it's just an honor to work with these guys. When someone gets up walking again, it's truly rewarding," said Zalewski.
On Thursday, Salazar faced an almost unimaginable walk. But, he's determined. "It's just how bad you want it, and I want it pretty bad," explained Salazar.
Salazar didn't take a few steps. He walked the entire parallel bars.
"I feel complete. I felt emotional. I'm not going to lie. I kind of wanted to cry," he continued.
"That's not Jorge. He puts in all his effort and that's why he gets a lot of compliments," said Analeecia Salazar, Jorge Salazar's wife.
As Salazar slowly moves forward on his new legs, his wife watches and as he surpasses what may be, his biggest milestone yet.
Salazar said his wife's support is what inspires him to keep pushing himself.
"It's a lot. It means a lot to me. I never thought I would come this far with him. We've been through so much," said Analeecia Salazar.
Jorge Salazar's steps Thursday signify a new chapter for the Delano Marine and his family. It's a moment that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Salazar should be able to walk on his own in the next few weeks, which is perfect timing, because his wife will give birth to their second son in about three weeks.