A grandfather who was a Purple Heart recipient made the ultimate sacrifice to save his 3-year-old granddaughter after their Oklahoma exploded on Sept. 19, his son said.
Brendon Osteen said his father, 69-year-old Don Osteen died from a heart attack during surgery on Monday, Sept. 30, after spending days fighting for his life, according to KFOR.
Don Osteen was an Army veteran and was disabled in a grenade explosion during his service in Vietnam, his family said.
“He wasn’t worried about himself at all. I’ll leave it at that, but ‘save her’ was the message he was trying to get across, and he did exactly that,” Brendon told KFOR.
The explosion ripped through Osteen’s house in Maud, about 58 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, on Sept. 19. Brendon said his dad was standing about 15 to 30 feet away from the front door and lighting a candle next to a stove when the explosion occurred.
He suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung and extensive burns, yet he carried his granddaughter, Paetyn, a quarter of a mile from the fire to get help, his son said. Paetyn was also severely injured, with 30% of her body covered in burns, officials told KFOR.
The elder Osteen’s wife was the first to find him in a front pasture on the family’s property, with Paetyn nearby after he put her in the shade. Before he died, Osteen told his wife that the roof had fallen on top of Paetyn.
His son said while he initially attempted to drive from the scene, his keys had melted to him and his phone had exploded in his pocket.
The two were then taken to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.
Brendon called his father a hero in a touching tribute to him on Facebook.
“He knew that he did his job by saving the life of his Boo Boo Chicken,” he said. “He loved my daughter beyond unconditionally. And he gave it all for her to live.”
Brendon said the house where the explosion happened belonged to his parents and brother, Kelby Moore. The house was destroyed along with all their belongings.
Don Osteen’s daughter-in-law, Jamie Moore, wrote Tuesday on a fundraising page that Paetyn is still in the pediatric intensive care unit but is “doing well and healing much better than we anticipated” thanks to her grandfather’s final heroic act.