Posted at: 09/26/2012 5:42 PM
Updated at: 09/26/2012 6:16 PM
By: Gordon Severson
Local Soldier Receives Rare Award
(ABC 6 News) -- A soldier from Albert Lea gets an unexpected honor for heroism while serving in the Middle East. That soldier is being recognized for heroic actions while in Iraq.
It's a top military honor not many receive. When in war, you're often put in life or death situations.
"You're getting shot at," Chris Edwards explains.
For a gunner in a convoy it's even worse.
"You don't want to stick up too high," says Edwards.
Even though National Guard Specialist Chris Edwards was shot at many times, he was never cleared to return fire. The only time he used his gun was for training.
"We usually traveled at night," Edwards explains as he sorts through his favorite photos.
It was during one of his missions, transporting equipment from Iraq to Kuwait, when Edwards and his crew were thrown into the craziest situation of their deployment.
One their guns couldn't help with.
"I was the first one out. I jumped out of the truck on the top," Edwards says.
They had come across an accident. Two mini vans collided while carrying dozens of Iraqi civilians. Edwards says he just reacted.
"I don't know I guess I just did what I was trained to do. You know?"
In a matter of seconds, he and two others were able to put out the flames, break open the windows and carry five people to safety.
"One was a baby and one was like six to ten. Then we got two mothers and a father out.”
While it wasn't his mission, Edwards believes this simple act of kindness goes a long way.
"Kind of shows people that hey, we're not here to just fight people you know and make a big mess. We're here. We're helping you guys right now and we don't expect nothing back you know."
Expecting nothing in return, Edwards was shocked nearly a year later when the Army presented him with the Soldiers Medal.
A rare honor he received while training at Fort Ripley this past weekend.
"It was just kind of like, here you deserve this. I'm like, okay. I was just kind of doing my job. It was just, it's no big deal to me," Edwards says.
What is a big deal for him are the lives he saved. Five people continue to live their lives. Lives he saved without ever firing his gun.
Now that he’s back home Edward says he can't wait to get back to training with his unit. He plans to stay with the military and make it his career. He says it's the only job he knows where you can visit so many countries and cultures across the world.