story by: Gina Harkins
photo courtesy of: The Hero’s Project
A Marine has reached the summit of Africa’s tallest mountain just 18 months after losing his legs to an improvised explosive device — and he did it at the pace of an able-bodied climber.
Staff Sgt. Mark Zambon, 27, had some rough deployments. As an explosive ordnance disposal technician, it was his job to locate explosives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Humvees in which he was riding blew up in 2007 and 2008, and he lost parts of his fingers in an explosion in 2010. But in January 2011, while supporting 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, in Afghanistan, Zambon stepped on the pressure plate of an IED and lost both of his legs above the knee.
A year and a half later, Zambon did a headstand 19,341 feet in the air atop Mt. Kilimanjaro. He brought with him the dog tags of two of his closest buddies who were killed in separate IED attacks : Staff Sgt. Josh Cullins and Sgt. Mike Tayaotao. Zambon wore their tags around his neck as he made the climb and, once at the top, dug a hole with his own EOD knife to bury them.
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