Sylacauga native to be honored as Soldier Hero
FORT KNOX, Ky. — Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mullins of Sylacauga has been named one of the Army’s Soldier Heroes for 2013.

Mullins, an Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps instructor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, said he’s honored to be selected among “all the great soldiers who are serving this great nation,” according to a press release.

The Army Soldier Hero Program highlights the achievements of soldiers who have demonstrated acts of heroism and valor in the face of extreme adversity during combat. Their role is to mentor athletes selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a nationally televised high school all-star football game held each January in San Antonio, Texas. This year’s game was Saturday.

Mullins’ Army awards and decorations included V devices for his Bronze Star, Air Medal and Joint Service Commendation Medal. V devices are awarded for valor, an attribute Mullins displayed during his deployment to Mosul, Iraq, in 2005, according to the release.

Mullins’ platoon was returning to base when it discovered a bomb in the middle of the road. The platoon secured the area while waiting for the explosive ordnance unit to arrive. Before they arrived, a speeding car became visible on the road, aiming for Mullins’ squad.

“After verbal and visual signals and a warning shot, I opened fire on the driver, causing him to veer to the right,” Mullins said. “The car exploded just to the right of the squad, saving the life of my squad members. I received the only injuries to the face and body from the explosive inside the car.

“I stood my ground to protect my fellow soldiers and refused to give up my position on the line until I was no longer able.”

Mullins’ adherence to the mission and to his fellow soldiers is something he said he wants to encourage in AAB athletes, just as he does when instructing ROTC cadets.

Mullins, who played high school football in Macon, Ga., and Rockford, looks forward to exchanging stories with the AAB athletes.

“I’m interested in what gave them the drive to accomplish to get them where they are today,” he said.

He also wants to teach them about teamwork, a hallmark of both the Army and successful sports teams.

“It’s all about teamwork and giving 110 percent,” Mullins said. “Never quit.”

© 2013