SACRAMENTO -- Kino Montantes, a 12-year Army veteran, worked as a nurse at the Veterans Affairs hospital, helping to save lives.
But now he's in the hospital fighting for his own life.
"He's a very caring man. He literally devotes his life for others every day," said Montantes' wife, Emily.
Kino Montantes joined his wife and her sister at a work Christmas party Dec. 15. After the party, they walked to the Capitol and as they were walking back he was suddenly attacked by a stranger walking by.
"My husband turned around and it looked like he said, 'what?'" Emily Montantes recalled. "And the man punched him I believe in his temple because he was knocked out before he hit the floor."
She said her husband's head smacked the pavement, causing a stroke.
"I ran toward him and there was nothing I could do," she said. "Luckily, there was a nurse in the audience because it had turned into a spectacle."
Kino Montantes was rushed to UC Davis Medical Center, where he underwent emergency brain surgery. Doctors had to remove part of his skull.
"He was put into a medically induced coma for the first three days to make sure his brain swelling would go down," Emily Montantes said. "And now his skull will be left off for one to three months and, hopefully, the recovery is only six to eight months. But we never know if he'll ever be the same."
He remains in critical but stable condition in the neuro-intensive care unit.
"The guy went to war and came back in good health and then just randomly on the street and now he's fighting for his life," said his brother, Johnathan Kendall. "So that's the hardest part."
The family said they want police to catch Kino Montantes' attacker and get justice for him.
While he has a long road ahead, his family remains optimistic about his recovery.