Cpl Jernigan: In 2002, Corporal Michael Jernigan enlisted as a third generation Marine, following a legacy started in 1946. Just six months into his first deployment in Iraq, he was catastrophically wounded by an I.E.D. on August 22nd, 2004 in Mahmudiyah, Iraq while serving with Company E 2nd Battalion 2nd Marine Regiment in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since being wounded Michael Jernigan has made great strides towards recovery and helped pioneer the “Paws for Patriots”, a veterans program at Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. Jernigan is active with the local Marine Corps League detachment and has spoken to organizations like the Veterans Administration and the Cooperative Council on Military Education about coming home, returning to civilian life and applying the lessons that they learned in the military to strive for excellence in their lives. His going above and beyond the call of duty earns Corporal Michael Jernigan our American Hero Award.
SSG Smith: Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Smith joined the Army in May 2006 and joined his battalion at Fort Bragg in October 2009. In addition to his two tours of duty in Afghanistan, he previously deployed to Iraq for 15 months in June 2007. Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Smith was a hard-working and trustworthy soldier on his second deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed on April 3 by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province. Smith is survived by his wife, Lara, and two children, ages 2 and 5. Smith’s awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with one oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with one campaign star, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge and Parachutist Badge.His response to the call of duty to serve his country despite the cost, merits Staff Sgt. Smith the Trojan Labor Ultimate American Hero Award.