BELTON, MO. It's been 10 months since Army Reserve Sgt. Jared Myers drove a battered Humvee several miles through an Iraqi insurgent "kill zone" to a medical aid station.
The Lawrence, Kan., native's vehicle was hit by the blast from an improvised bomb in the road, killing the soldier sitting beside him and seriously wounding a second soldier. Myers himself was badly wounded.
Sunday afternoon, Myers was recognized for his bravery and for keeping a cool head. His commanding officer, Lt. Col. James Suriano, presented Myers with the Bronze Star Medal for Valor.
"His actions were pretty incredible. He more than deserves it," Suriano said shortly before a special ceremony on the grounds of the headquarters of the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion in Belton.
About 50 members of the battalion, along with nearly 30 relatives of Myers and other soldiers receiving promotions and special recognition, were on hand to watch.
Earlier, Myers' mother, Judy Hammond, of Lawrence, stood with her son and talked about the ebb and flow of emotions she experienced in the past year.
"I'm very proud of him and what he's done for them," she said of her son's actions in Iraq. "I've got my Kleenex in my purse."
Myers was proud of his medal, too, and is looking for a nice frame to display it. But earning a medal was the last thing on his mind Oct. 23.
"It seems a little surreal," said Myers, 24. "Sometimes I think back and can't believe I went through that."
On that day, he was driving one of two unarmored Humvees back to base in Baquba, Iraq, when the bomb exploded. The blast killed Capt. John Teal, sitting in the passenger seat of the Humvee. Sgt. Chuck Bartles, a Kansas University student, was riding in back. He was wounded badly enough that an arm had to be amputated.
Myers said he would have been killed if Teal's body had not taken the brunt of the explosion. Myers' own right arm required the placement of four pins to hold it together. Since then, he has mostly recovered from his wounds, he said. He will be talking about his experience with other Army and Reserve units and discussing what he has learned from being in Iraq.
One lesson he will share: "Be prepared, but the biggest thing is that you can't control everything."
Myers is one of only about 350 soldiers to earn the Bronze Star for actions during the Iraq war, Suriano said, noting that there have been hundreds of thousands of military personnel who have rotated in and out of Iraq since the war began in March 2003.
The Bronze Star is the fourth-highest medal for valor the Army issues. The highest is the Medal of Honor, and so far none has been issued during the war in Iraq.
"He did everything right and he did it the way you are supposed to," said Sgt. First Class Tim Berger, another of Myers' superiors.
Myers' father, Terry Myers, of Festus, was another proud -- and thankful -- family member watching the medal ceremony.
"I'm just glad he's here at home," Terry Myers said. "I hope he doesn't have to go back again."
Jared Myers is still awaiting the Purple Heart medal, which he will receive because he was wounded in action.
Myers stays in touch with Bartles, who is at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he continues to recuperate and study the Russian language. During an interview with the Journal-World last year, Bartles said he also wanted to attend law school at KU.
Myers has six months to go on his current contract for serving in the Reserve. Although he has already served more than seven years in the Reserve, Myers said he intends to sign up for more.