2019 American Hero Award Recipients

Each year, HireQuest Inc. and the Higher Quest Foundation host the American Hero Awards. The ceremony recognizes two American service men or women who have gone above the call of duty in service to their country.

Ultimate Hero Award Recipient: Lieutenant Peter Ober, U.S. Navy

Lt. Peter Ober was born in Charleston, SC. He graduated from Episcopal High School in Jacksonville, Fla., where he received the Sportsmanship Award, which has since been renamed the Peter Ober Sportsmanship Award in recognition of his integrity, selflessness, perseverance, kindness, and community service.

Lieutenant Pete Ober, U.S. Navy

In 1998, Ober graduated from Citadel in Charleston, S.C., as a proud member of Charlie Company. While there, his passion and dedication for wrestling mirrored his never-ending enthusiasm for physical exercise and determination to motivate others awarded him the Tenacity Award.

After he married his wife, Alicia, he accepted a commission in the U.S. Navy and was trained as a naval aviator. His strong sense of duty to his country and his ability to work with others enabled him to thrive in the Navy. His sense of honor, integrity, and honesty made him an inspiring leader.

Shortly before his death, he was promoted to lieutenant and had advanced in his career to become the helicopter aircraft commander of the MH-53E Sea Dragon. On July 16th, 2003, the MH-53E Ober was flying caught fire due to mechanical problems. It crashed during a training mission near NAS Sigonella, killing everyone on board.

Ober’s unwavering dedication and willingness to serve our country at all costs, including his own life, makes him the ultimate American hero.

American Hero Award Recipient: Staff Sergeant Stephen Meyer

Staff Sgt. Stephen Meyer is a paramedic and staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, recently serving as the 75th Ranger Regiment senior medic. He was deployed for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel as a special operations strike force senior medic and medical advisor to the Afghanistan Special Operations Force. Meyer provided medical support and training to junior medics to ensure the highest level of readiness.

He received a commendation medal with “C” device for exceptional achievement in support of the operation. Meyer’s advanced training enabled him to treat severe wounds, administer tranexamic acid, apply tourniquets, perform invasive procedures on severely injured casualties, and safely move them to a secure location.

“SSG Meyer is the epitome of selfless service.”

Meyer was wounded in action. Despite being immobilized and in pain with his own injury, he continued caring for his injured comrades. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.

“SSG Meyer’s superior professionalism, expertise, and unwavering commitment to excellence have and continue to save lives on the battlefield.”

After graduating from the U.S. Army Ranger School, the Air Assault School, and the Airborne School, and six deployments, Meyer has not only received the Purple Heart and the Combat Medic Badge, but also the National Association of Emergency Medical Technician’s Military Medic of 2018 award. He is truly a great American hero.

2018 American Hero Award Recipients

Each year, Trojan Labor and the Higher Quest Foundation host the American Hero Awards. The ceremony recognizes two American service men or women who have gone above the call of duty in service to their country.

Ultimate Hero Award Recipient: Captain Daniel Eggers, U.S. Army

Capt. Eggers was born in Pueblo, Colo., and spent his early years in Hollis, N.H. In 1987, he and his family moved to Cape Coral, Fla. He was a devout Catholic and an altar boy during middle school and high school. He attended Gulf Middle School and graduated from Cape Coral High School.

Captain Daniel Eggers, U.S. Army

While at Cape High, Eggers was enrolled in the JROTC program and was the battalion commander in his senior year. He was a member of the National Honor Society, ran cross-country, and was in the Young Marines, the United Stated Marine Corps’ youth program. In 1992, he was selected as the National Young Marine of the Year.   He graduated from The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. with a degree in history in 1997.  He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Infantry in May 1997.

In July 2001, he began training for Special Forces and earned his green beret two years later. He went through the Army Arabic Language School and was fluent in Arabic. Eggers was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2003. While in Afghanistan, as a Green Beret team leader in the 1st Battalion, 3rdForces Group (Airborne), he carried out secret missions.

Eggers came from a large family with a long tradition of military service. His great-great-grandfather was a member of Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, two grandfathers served in World War II, his father served in Vietnam, and his younger brother served two tours in Iraq.

On May 29, 2004, Eggers was killed in action in the Zabul Province in southeastern Afghanistan when his Humvee struck a land mine as he was pursuing the enemy. It was his second tour of duty there, and he was serving as detachment commander. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.

Eggers is survived by his wife, Rebecca, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who is stationed at Ft. Campbell, Ky.; as well as two sons, John and William; his parents William and Margaret; and his siblings, two brothers and four sisters.

On March 21, 2005, the U. S. Army renamed the combined forces compound in Kabul, Afghanistan “Camp Eggers,” after Captain Daniel William Eggers. During the dedication ceremony, a plaque was unveiled honoring this American hero.

Eggers was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during his first tour in Afghanistan. During his second tour, he was awarded a second Bronze Star Medal, a Bronze Star Medal with a “V” device (valor), and the Purple Heart.

Family, friends, priests, and peers used these words to describe Danny: “dedicated, intelligent, born leader, motivated, and possessing both a great sense of humor and humility.” They called him “the patron saint of the underdog.”

American Hero Award Recipient: Sergeant Andrew Smith, U.S. Marine Corps

Andrew Smith grew up in Easley, S.C., and attended the College of Charleston. During his junior year, he felt his life needed a drastic change.

“There were all these things going on in the world,: he said, “and I was missing out.”

In 2008, he joined the Marines, and was soon deployed to MEU.

In 2010, Smith was sent on his 2nd deployment to Haiti to provide emergency aid. Upon his return, he successfully became a Marine sniper. On May 15, 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan, Smith was severely injured from mortar shrapnel while under enemy attack. Moving quickly, medics placed Smith aboard a helicopter for transport to a hospital at Camp Leatherneck.

He was discharged from the hospital on May 27, 2011, after several surgeries. The following January, he was honorably discharged from the Marines as a sergeant. He earned the Purple Heart, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Armed Forces Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Smith has gone on to graduate from the Charleston School of Law, summa cum laudem and is now an attorney in Charleston, S.C. He is a true American hero.

2017 American Hero Award Recipients

Each year, Trojan Labor, Acrux Staffing, and the Higher Quest Foundation host the American Hero Awards. The ceremony recognizes two American service men or women who have gone above the call of duty in service to their country.

Ultimate Hero Award Recipient: Pfc. Cody James Patterson

Pfc. Cody Patterson was born April 12, 1989, in Corvallis, Ore. After graduating from Philomath High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army from his hometown of Philomath, Ore., in January 2012 and completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning as an infantryman.

After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, also at Fort Benning. Patterson graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company B, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment in November 2012 and served as a rifleman. His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.

Sadly, he was killed on his second deployment, first combat deployment.

His awards and decorations include:

The Parachutist Badge

The U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

Patterson also has been awarded:

The National Defense Service Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Army Service Ribbon

Overseas Service Ribbon

Posthumous Certificate of Promotion

The Good Conduct Medal

The Combat Infantryman’s Badge

Bronze Star Medal

Bronze Star Metal with “V” device

American Hero Award Recipient: Staff Sergeant Jeffery M. Dawson.

The 2017 American Hero Award recipient is Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Dawson. He graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in Fortville, Indiana.

On February 17th, 2015, Dawson was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest award for valor. He earned this award while deployed to Afghanistan with the 28th EOD Company (Airborne).

During a mission, a fleeing enemy insurgent detonated an explosive killing himself and the team’s dog.

(FORT BENNING, Ga) 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Distinguished Service Cross Ceremony, February 17, 2015 in Marshall Auditorium. Sgt. Bryan Anderson, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, and Staff Sgt. Jeffery Dawson, 28th Ordnance Company (Airborne), received the nationÕs second highest honor the Distinguished Service Cross, for their heroic actions Oct. 6, 2013. (Photos by: Patrick A. Albright/MCoE PAO Photographer)

Soon after, Dawson realized that there were IED’s surrounding him and his team.

According to the Army news website:“Despite being wounded by two separate explosions, Dawson halted the mission, disarmed the improvised explosive devices and aided in the evacuation of dead and wounded Soldiers. Navigating the chaotic situation in limited visibility for more than two hours, Dawson exposed himself to grave danger while locating three confirmed pressure plate IEDs and an additional six suspected devices, the award citation stated.”

Dawson’s other awards and recognition’s include:

Combat Action Badge, Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal Badge, Parachutists Badge,Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Ribbon with one campaign star, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon with 2 campaign stars, Valorous Unit Award, and Meritorious Unit Citation.

Staff Sergeant Jeffrey Dawson went above the call of duty and is truly deserving of the 2017 American Hero Award.

2016 American Hero Award Recipients

2015 Trojan Labor American Hero Recipients


Spc. Joseph Caron was a native of Tacoma, Washington and participated in Air Force ROTC in high school as he always knew he wanted to serve his country in the armed forces. Spc. Caron was a member of Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Bragg, NC. Spc. Caron was killed when his unit was attacked by insurgents using a roadside bomb while he was on foot patrol in the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan. Spc. Joseph Caron is missed by all who knew him.



Sergeant Bryan Anderson is assigned to Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, GA., as a combat medic. He was born in Wayne, Michigan.

Sgt. Anderson was a medic with a team of Army Rangers who were raiding an enemy compound in south Afghanistan. Suddenly, at least 10 IED’s detonated within a matter of minutes. Four soldiers were mortally wounded and several others were catastrophically injured. Although he suffered injuries, Sgt. Anderson rushed to aid his comrades. He moved into areas that had not yet been cleared for IEDs and treated the wounded soldiers. While treating the soldiers, another blast knocked Sgt. Anderson over and mortally wounded Specialist Cody Patterson. He then continued to treat the wounded, including Cpl. Hargis, whom he kept alive for an hour and thirty seven minutes with two leg amputations in an area surrounded with explosives. “I never even thought twice about running to one of those patients,”Anderson told Army Times. “The guys are basically my family, so when one of them is hurt, and I’m their medic, it’s my job to go make them better.” In addition to being an American Hero Award recipient, Sgt. Anderson recently received the Army Distinguished Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross is the Army’s second highest award after the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Both of these men are American Heroes. They have gone above and beyond the call of duty. We are incredibly grateful for the service all of our active duty military and veterans. Freedom is not free, it comes at a price, a price which is paid every day by our nation’s military.

2014 Trojan Labor American Hero Recipients


SFC Santos-Silva: Sergeant First Class Carlos M. Santos-Silva was born November 4 1977, in Wiesbaden Germany. On April 11 1998 he married Kristen J Anderson, in Fort Campbell, Ky. On March 6 1999 he celebrated the birth of his only son Cameron Santos-Silva. He served in the United States Army from August 1996 until March 22 2010. He was a veteran of the Kosovo campaign, Operation Iraqi freedom where he completed 2 tours as a member of the 2nd Battalion 14th Infantry Regiment based out of Fort Drum, NY.  He was killed in action on March 22,2010 while serving as a Platoon Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division while assigned to the 2-508 Parachute Infantry Regiment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  During the span of his 14 year career Sergeant First Class Santos-Silva awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal (4), the National Defense Service Medal, the Kosovo Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the NATO Medal, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Air Assault Badge, and the Basic Parachutist Badge. Carlos was a loving husband, father, son and friend and is truly missed by all.

MusilSFC Musil:  Sergeant First Class Robert Musil is the recipient of two bronze star medals, the first of which he was on a QRF element in Ghazni Province Afghanistan serving as a M240B machine gun team leader. In a fight that lasted about 10 hours, through extremely heavy gun fire, after being shot at his chest plate, he remained in control of the element and selflessly called in an Apache Strike almost on top of his position in order to suppress the enemy and continued to return fire. The second Bronze Star was for meritorious service where he led his Platoon in Afghanistan in the main effort on the final Push into the Home of the Taliban. Sergeant First Class Robert Musil awards and decorations also include 2 Meritorious Service Medals, 3 Army Commendation Medals, 3 Army Achievement Medals, Combat Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge, Irish Jump Wings, and the Air Assault Badge. SFC Musil’s continued service to our nation is a testimony to sacrifices made by service men. Let us join his wife, Christina and two daughters, Zoe Elizabeth and Genevieve Nichole, in recognizing him as a true American Hero.

2013 Trojan Labor American Hero Recipients

Major Gray: Major Walter David Gray was an Air Liaison Officer assigned to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, Fort Carson, Colorado.   He began his career in 1993 as an Enlisted Airman, serving as a weapons loader then as a TACP prior to receiving his commission in 2001 through the AFROTC program at Charleston Southern University.  While at CSU he met his wife Heather.  They married on August 11, 2001 and since have three children; Nyah 8, Garrett 5, and Ava 4.  In 2010, he became one of the first Air Liaison Officers to cross-train into the new 13L AFSC.  In March of 2012 he deployed to Afghanistan supporting the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, leading 25 TACP in combat operations.  He was killed in action outside Combat Outpost Fiaz and earned the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.  He will forever be remembered as a devoted husband, father, and friend.  Above all, David loved the Lord and is now rejoicing in His presence.

SSG Jauregui:  Staff Sergeant Alejandro Jauregui was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on April 12, 1985, at the age of 3 his dad moved them to Williams, CA where he grew up and graduated from high school in 2003.  In July 2003, he joined the Army was sent to Fort Knox, KY for basic training, followed by AIT and Airborne School.  In March 2004, he was assigned to Fort Bragg, NC and went on his first deployment to Iraq in June 2004 to June 2005.  In September 2006, he deployed to Iraq for a 15 month deployment where he met his wife Isa.  During that deployment he was awarded an Army Accommodation medal for pulling a soldier out of a burning vehicle, that incident inspired him to re-class to be an infantryman after his deployment he went back to basic training for that, after graduating basic training again he was assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and did another two deployments to Afghanistan.  On April 8, 2012 while on his 4th deployment he stepped on a dismounted IED where he lost both of his legs and two fingertips on his right hand as well as his hearing in both of my ears. Through his service for our country he has been decorated with the Purple Heart Army Accommodation Medal X6 one with “V”, Army Achievement Medal X5, Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Ribbon X4, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, NATO ribbon and Astonian Foreign Jump Wings.

2012 Trojan Labor American Hero Recipients

2012-1Cpl 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.

2010 Trojan Labor American Hero Recipients

Two local members of the U.S. military who were decorated for service in Afghanistan will be recognized Thursday as part of the 2010 Trojan Labor American Hero Awards. The event will be on the fantail deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown at Patriots Point.

The first award will be given to Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Kutilek, a 2001 Citadel graduate who was injured earlier this year

The second award will be presented to Tech Sgt. Michael Williams, who is assigned to the Charleston Air Force Base. He was injured in Afghanistan in 2009.


Kutilek was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during his third tour of duty while serving with the 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines in Helmand province. On March 5, Kutilek was leading his men around a corner when he sustained a rifle shot in the right leg.



Williams, of the 628 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, was on patrol in August 2009 near the Mushan village in Afghanistan when a device exploded, taking off his left leg. While under fire, Williams assisted in medically treating his own wounds while conducting a post-blast analysis to prevent injury to future EOD teams. For his actions, Williams was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor, adding to his other recognitions.


Special guest speaker is Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, a Medal of Honor recipient and Marine Corps retiree. Additional guests include Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon, Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails and representatives from The Citadel and the Charleston Air Force Base.

– Post And Courier