Master Sergeant Jose Rojas (DOD photo)
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Master Sergeant Rojas volunteered for duty in Iraq in 2008 to contribute to the war effort and gain valuable experience. Within a few months of arriving he got the chance to do both.
Assigned to a U.S. unit responsible for training Iraqi security personnel, MSG Rojas was responsible for the Iraqi medics. As the Iraqis moved to secure an area a few miles south of Baghdad, they were attacked by insurgents with small arms. Rojas heard the call when an Iraqi tank was struck with a rocket propelled grenade, critically injuring four Iraqi police.
At the time of the incident, the Iraqi medical personnel were a couple of miles away so MSG Rojas dismounted and ran to the scene. As he approached the site, he thought to himself, “Here we go. There is why I have trained for 16 years. This is why I volunteered.” (DOD)
He pulled the four injured Iraqis from the destroyed tank and began emergency first aid, ignoring the bullets flying through the air. When U.S. troops arrived to support the Iraqi police, the fighting got worse. “Bullets ricocheted off the walls behind me, hitting my (bullet-proof) vest. I just went into auto-pilot.” (DOD)
In the end, MSG Rojas saved the lives of all four injured Iraqis, and he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for his efforts. Although his mission was to train Iraqi medics, it was his own training that was validated when the need arose. He is our hero of the week.
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