It took six years, but a former Utah sergeant who was hit by IEDs nine different times while serving two tours of duty in Iraq and who now suffers permanent brain damage finally was awarded the military's fifth-highest combat medal, the Bronze Star.
Joshua Hansen, 42, the father of two, was discharged from the Army after the ninth improvised explosive device hit on March 15, 2007.
The Daily Mail reported he was driving the lead vehicle in a Zaidon, Iraq, route-clearing mission when an IED blasted beneath his vehicle. He kept driving.
"We were OK, but we knew we needed to get out of there before we were attacked again," Mr. Hansen said in the Standard-Examiner.
Shortly after, his vehicle ran over three anti-tank mines, and the ensuing explosion "lifted the vehicle off the ground," he said in the Standard-Examiner article. "I don't remember anything after that. All I can remember is being on a chopper on the way to the hospital."
Mr. Hansen's memory fails him sometimes because of the traumatic brain injuries he suffered from that day's explosions. It was his mother who pushed for him to receive the Bronze Star — for six full years, the Daily Mail reported.
Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, presented the award on Tuesday.
Mr. Hansen's former Army captain, who put in for the award for Mr. Hansen in 2007, wrote of him: "By willingly traveling on the most dangerous and IED-laded routes ... Sgt. Hansen saved an untold amount of lives and military equipment. Hansen's loyalty, honor and personal courage kept his soldiers' motivation high and fears low," the Daily Mail reported.
Sgt. Hansen accepted the award with emotion, saying he "didn't serve this country for a medal," but rather for "my boys, all the men I served with," the Daily Mail reported. He said he joined the military after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
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