Oklahoma Army veteran Don Osteen, 69, fought in the Vietnam War. For that service, he received a purple heart and was disabled after a grenade explosion. On September 19, as he lit a candle in his home in Maud, Oklahoma, the house exploded. His 3 year old granddaughter Pae was with him.
“Paetyn (“Pae”) is my 3 year niece who lives in Bowlegs, OK (Yes, Bowlegs!). Pae and her Papa (Don Osteen) were critically injured by a propane gas explosion that leveled their house. Not only was the fire devastating, but the entire house collapsed on them both during the fire. Papa rushed to cover Pae with his body to save her from the collapsing house and flames. Even with over 78% of Papa’s body covered with 3rd degree burns with flesh hanging off his body, a punctured lung and most ribs broken, he carried Pae down the road over 1/4 of a mile to find help.”
Brendon Osteen, Paetyn’s father, stated,
“After saving my daughter’s life, he then hiked up a driveway that goes a quarter of a mile through the woods and through and back up a steep creek bed…He knew that he did his job by saving the life of his Boo Boo Chicken. He loved my daughter beyond unconditionally. And he gave it all for her to live.”
Don initially attempted to drive away, but his keys had melted to himself in the intensity of the fire. So he walked, carrying his granddaughter.
Don Osteen and his granddaughter were taken to Integris Burn Center in Oklahoma City, but Don succumbed to his wounds during surgery on Monday. Pae survived, but will require many months of skin grafts.
There are many kinds of heroes. This one served his country some time ago, but when the time came to serve his beloved family, he rose to the occasion. He saved the life of his three year old granddaughter. As his son stated, “he shouldn’t have been able to do what he did.”
And THAT is a hero.
Featured photo: Paetyn and Don Osteen via GoFundMe by Susie Reagan