Like his fellow Reservists, Jeremy Church received army training before he was sent on a 14-month deployment to Iraq. There, he joined the 724th Transportation Company, assigned to various missions all over the country.
On a mission last April, Specialist Church was driving the commander's vehicle at the head of a convoy of 24 cars and trucks - heading to the airport in Baghdad.
"That day the mission came down where emergency fuel needed to be pushed to Baghdad International Airport," recalls Specialist Church. "That's when we came under an ambush that lasted for about [6 to 8 kilometers]."
Commanding officer Lieutenant Matt Brown was in the lead car with Jeremy Church.
"As soon as we started taking the fire, I told Specialist Church here's where we got to go," says Lieutenant Brown. "He was just on the ball from the word 'go'. He was returning fire at the same time he was driving. Then, I got hurt, and I was out of the picture because it was a head injury; I had a concussion and I lost my left eye. I was definitely in no shape to control that convoy."
At that point, Lieutenant Brown says, Specialist Church took control and became the actual commander of the convoy.
"He got us through the convoy by leading us out of there," says Lieutenant Brown. "When we got to a safe zone, he literally carried me over his shoulder. He administered first aid with bandages. The last thing I remember from that ambush is that I'm laying on the ground seeing him running back toward the vehicles. The only thing that was going through my head is, 'where is he going?'"
Specialist Church was going back to the fight zone to help his fellow soldiers, who were still trapped by enemy fire, get to safety. His actions saved the lives of 9 people that day: 5 soldiers and 4 civilians. Back in the United States, in the presence of his family and fellow soldiers, Jeremy Church received the Silver Star, the Army's third highest medal for valor.
"I'm very honored by the Silver Star," says Specialist Church. "But I do have to say that other members of the 724th were just as much heroes as I was that day."
Lieutenant Matt Brown agrees that all the members of his company were heroes that day. But he emphasizes that what Specialist Church did was above and beyond the call of duty.
"Everybody in the 724th had volunteered to go out the very next day to pick up the slack after we were hit," says Lieutenant Brown. " But, I've never seen and I can never imagine one single person do what he did on that day."
Jeremy Church says he is looking forward to returning to Iraq. He hopes to see it transformed into a peaceful nation where people can live their lives the way they want.