Family of military veteran known as hero in need of help

Posted at 6:12 PM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 21:12:07-04

A battle against esophageal cancer has come at a big cost, and a Vietnam veteran's family is asking for help.

"I think he is a hero," Valerie Stunich said of her husband of 34 years, Jacque.

Jacque Stunich served in the Army in Vietnam.

"When his country called on him, he responded," Valerie explained. "He actually went down in three helicopter crashes."

Stunich got out of the service, but he kept protecting people.

"Things happen when he's around… it's kind of like God knows that people are going to need their help," his wife added.

Valerie said her husband helped save two men who had heart attacks and put out a neighbor's fire. In December, surgery left him frail and on a feeding tube, but that did not stop him from jumping into action when he saw someone attacking a police officer.

Stunich grabbed his cane to use as a weapon, but his legs buckled and he dropped it.

He mustered enough strength to help the officer pin the attacker. He then saw the assailant grab the officer's gun, so he pried his fingers off and bent his wrist back until backup came and cuffed the attacker.

Stunich helped saved the officer's life with his own on the line.

The cop wrote him a note that read: "Jacque, you're my hero."

"He was definitely a fighter," Valerie said.

Cancer was one fight Stunich lost. He passed away on July 2.

"He used to always say he hoped that I didn't go before he did because he said he couldn't make it without me, but I can tell you it has not been easy without him," Valerie said.

She cannot crawl in his hospital bed anymore to hold him, so she just hopes to honor the man who never stopped serving.

"I'm very proud of him," Valerie said.

The family is trying to raise money for a plaque at Mt. Soledad. They say money raised beyond that will go to the stack of medical bills.

Click here to learn more about the GoFundMe page.