10 Amazing Dads Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice


If you ask most fathers, without hesitation, they will say that they would die for their children. Unfortunately, some men have been put in that situation, and with Father’s Day coming up next weekend, we want to honor those men and their heroic actions by sharing their stories. So yeah, grabbing some tissues beforehand might not be the worst idea you have today.

10. Justin McCary

On the afternoon of October 8, 2015, Justin McCary, his 10-year-old daughter Haley, and his niece were doing some rock collecting near a railroad bridge in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When they heard the train coming, they started to move away from the tracks, but that is when Haley’s foot became stuck.

Doing what any good father would do, Justin rushed to his daughter’s aid. As the train, which had four locomotives and was pulling 95 cars of coal, barreled towards them, Justin was able to free Haley’s foot. He pushed her off the bridge and she fell 15-feet into the creek below. Mere seconds later, the train plowed into the 31-year-old father, killing him instantly.

Due to the fall, Haley broke her back, her pelvis, fractured her shoulder, and suffered internal bleeding. She had emergency surgery, but ultimately survived thanks to father.

9. German F. “Phil” Restrepo

snowy road

December 10, 1997, was a snowy day in Norwalk, Connecticut. It was one of those days that are great for playing outdoors, but terrible for driving. These two weather conditions came to a head around 5:40 p.m. when 40-year-old German F. “Phil” Restrepo was playing outside with his three-year-old son. Suddenly, a 31-year-old woman driving a Pathfinder lost control of her vehicle. The SUV jumped the curb and was heading towards Phil and his son. When Phil saw what was happening, he pushed his toddler son, who was on a sled, out of the way of the out-of-control SUV just before it slammed into him. After hitting Phil, the SUV continued down the sidewalk before finally coming to a stop when it hit a house.

When first responders arrived on the scene, they found Phil conscious and talking. He was having problems breathing and complaining of back pains. He was taken to the hospital and his condition worsened rapidly. He was pronounced dead just an hour later.

Besides the son he saved, Phil left behind a wife and a seven-year-old daughter. The driver of the Pathfinder was charged with negligent homicide.

8. Kris Wichman


January 4, 2015 was the start of the weekend for 36-year-old Kris Wichman. Around 4:00 in the afternoon, he was kicking a ball around with his two daughters, Izzy, 11, and Ava, 10, along with his niece, Kiri-Tepaninga, 7, at the mouth of the Patea River in South Taranaki, New Zealand. When the ball was kicked across the river, Wichman, who was an experienced surfer and fisherman, dove in the water to go retrieve it.

When he did, he didn’t realize that the three girls had followed him into the water. The problem was that the current in that area of the river was quite strong and the girls soon found themselves in trouble. With the help of his nephew, Kris was able to push his daughters to shore, but he and Kiri-Tepaninga were swept away by the currents. As they were pushed two kilometers out to sea, Kris kept his niece afloat, and thanks to her uncle’s sacrifice, Kiri-Tepaninga was able to swim to shore. Sadly, after saving his daughters and niece, Kris was exhausted and drowned.

Kris’ family said that in life, he was a “real top Kiwi,” and in death, he was a hero.

7. Fredrick Martin


It was clear to anyone who talked to 28-year-old Fredrick Martin of Inglewood, California, that he loved his eight-year-old son, Fredrick “Tre” Martin III, and on April 3, 2012, Fredrick showed exactly how much he cared for him.

On that day, Fredrick, his friend, and Tre were cleaning out Tre’s grandmother’s garage. Just after 7:00 p.m., two men ran towards them and fired a few shots. Fredrick instinctively got his son on the ground, huddled over him, and shielded him from the bullets. Fredrick ended up taking two bullets for his son; one in the abdomen and another in the torso. Sadly, Fredrick died in surgery, but his actions weren’t in vain – Tre survived with only a minor graze wound.

Fredrick was heralded as a hero in his community and in the local media. Police believe that his murder was random, and no one has ever been arrested in connection with the crime that left Tre Martin fatherless.

6. Johnathan Cooper


On the night of October 2, 2014, strong storms were raging in Malvern, Arkansas, and the Cooper family was settled quietly into their house, just talking and laughing, trying to wait out the weather. Then the wind really picked up, causing a giant oak tree to crash through the house, bringing down the roof on top of the family. Duanna Davis pushed two of her children out of the way, and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Johnathan Cooper, dove on top of his 14-month old daughter.

Unfortunately, the little girl was exactly where the tree and the house were coming down. Johnathan shielded his daughter from the debris, which ultimately saved her life. As you can probably guess by the theme of this list, Johnathan didn’t survive the storm. His family was devastated by his death, but will always be thankful for his sacrifice.

5. Jim Tramel


In March 2016, 43-year-old Silicon Valley executive Jim Tramel was on vacation with his family in Palm Springs. On Easter Sunday, the family and some other people were lounging in the pool when Jim saw that there was something wrong with his nine-year-old daughter. He immediately dived into the pool, but the problem was that, due to faulty wiring, the pool had become electrified. Jim was able to get his daughter to safety, but the electricity surging through the pool became too much for him and he needed to be pulled out of the pool himself. When the paramedics arrived, both father and daughter’s bodies were blue and CPR was being performed on them. They were taken to the hospital, where the daughter was in critical condition, but sadly, Jim was pronounced dead.

There were five other people who were also in the pool, but there weren’t as close to the faulty wiring as Jim and his daughter and were not seriously injured. Jim’s daughter survived the freak accident, but still has a long road to recovery.

After his death, the CEO of Jim’s company set up a GoFundMe page for the family and within two months, over $181,000 had been raised, beating their initial goal of $151,000.

4. Mohammed Raja Shafiq


On March 4, 2008, in Lancashire, England, 50-year-old father of seven and grandfather of four Mohammed Raja Shafiq got a call from his 18-year-old son, Umar. Umar, a student doing his A-level studies, said that he was being harassed by a group of young men as he tried to walk home through a park. The men wanted Umar to drop some assault charges stemming from an attack that they had perpetrated on him the previous year. Mohammed got off the phone and called the police.

Fifteen minutes later, Mohammed had made his way to the park, but the police were nowhere to be found. Mohammed found his son, who was being threatened by a group of four armed men in their late teens-to-early 20s. Mohammed tried to talk to the young men, but in response one of them hit him in the back of the head with a metal bar and another stabbed him in the stomach.

Before he lost consciousness, Mohammed told his wife, “Pray that I’ll pull through.” Unfortunately, Mohammed died of blood loss. Four men were arrested in connection with the senseless murder and the individuals who hit and stabbed him pleaded guilty to killing him.

3. Jacob Merkel


Early one morning in November 2010, a fire broke out in the home of the Merkels in Manitoba, Canada. The fire was intense and within minutes, Jacob, his wife Ludmilla, and three of their four children had gotten out of the house. Once outside, they soon realized that their fourth child, 13-year-old Kai, was still in the basement of the house. Braving the flames, Jacob, who was 36, went back inside. After several long, agonizing moments, Jacob reappeared from the fire with Kai in his arms. But just as he stepped out of the front door, there was an explosion behind him. Jacob took the brunt of it, and he pushed Kai forward.

Both father and son were taken to the hospital, and sadly, Jacob didn’t survive the night. Kai had several skin grafts and was in critical condition, but survived the fire.

In December 2013, Kai and his mother accepted a posthumous Medal of Bravery, an award given by the Canadian government, on Jacob’s behalf.

2. Adel Termos


On November 12, 2015, the day before the Paris terrorist attacks, in Beirut, Lebanon, 32-year-old Adel Termos was visiting an open-air market with his daughter, 6-year-old Malak. Suddenly, a bomb went off, not far from where Adel and Malak were located. Panic spread throughout the crowd and that is when Adel saw a man wearing a suicide vest. Thinking fast and acting selflessly, Adel left his daughter, ran to the second bomber and tackled him. This forced the bomber to detonate early and it is believed that Adel possibly saved hundreds of lives, including that of his daughter.

In total the two bombs, which were detonated within five minutes of each other in the same market, left 45 people dead and injured another 200, but the body count could have been much higher had it not been for Adel’s heroic actions.

1. Thomas S. Vander Woude


September 8, 2008, started off normally enough for the Vander Woude family of Nokesville, Virginia. 66-year-old Thomas Vander Woude, and the youngest of his sevens sons, 20-year-old Joseph, who has Down Syndrome, attended their daily church service and then went home to do some yard work. Thomas and Joseph, or Josie, as he is affectionately called, were nearly inseparable and that day was no different. But on that fateful day, Josie was standing on a metal lid to the family’s septic tank when suddenly it gave way and he fell in. Thomas saw what happened and ran to the septic tank. A workman who also witnessed the accident told Thomas’ wife, who called 9-1-1, and then they both ran to help.

Unfortunately, the sewage in the septic tank was over Josie’s head, so Thomas dropped into the tank. Once inside, he completely submerged himself in the raw sewage and pushed Josie up so that his head would be above water, and his mother and the workman tried to pull Josie out.

By the time the rescue workers arrived, Thomas had been in the tank for 15 to 20 minutes and was unconscious when he was pulled out. The paramedics were unable to revive Thomas and he was pronounced dead. Josie was taken to the hospital and survived the horrible accident.

If drowning in sewage in order to save your own child isn’t the definition of unconditional love, we’re not sure what is.

Robert Grimminck is a Canadian freelance writer. You can friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, follow him on Pinterest or visit his website. He’s also not crying, there’s just a lot of pollen in the air. Yeah, that’s it.

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1 Comment

  1. Dads…they don’t get the attention Mom does, but, man, they sure deserve our appreciation and respect. Having read this…I think my father will be having an especially cool “Papa’s Day”…