A war zone is a war zone.
Both soldiers and civilian contractors put their lives on the line everyday overseas in the fight for America’s freedoms.
For Indianola native Jay Blount, that danger became a reality in 2008 when he and a convoy of about 50 trucks were struck with an Incendiary Explosive Device while he was working as a contractor in Iraq.
Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde Smith will present Blount with the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom – Civilian Purple Heart – on Tuesday August 20.
The 1:30 p.m. ceremony will take place at the senator’s office located at 190 East Capital Street.
Blount is the second recipient from Mississippi.
Tommy Hamill was taken captive for 23 days in 2004 while serving as a Truck Convoy Commander for fuel delivery.
The Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom was established after the events of September 11, 2001.
Blount was nominated for the medal in 2013, but he said the health of the late Senator Thad Cochran and government red tape held up the honor until now.
Blount is an alumnus of MDJC and Delta State with bachelor’s and master’s degrees and was a teacher in the Greenville public school system at Solomon.
He worked as an Army contractor for several years building all sorts of sports fields and workout facilities for troops stationed in the dessert.
The former football tackle was injured on July 7, 2008 when his caravan was blown up by a cell phone activated IED in Iraq.
The “Rhino” vehicle he was in has an 1,800-pound door and a 6,200-pound roof and gun ports. The vehicle is hard to disguise as having passengers.
“I was in the middle of the convoy with 50 trucks in front and 50 in the back,” Blount said. “We were about halfway to Mosul and passed a village in the mountains. The next thing you know we were thrown up in the air, flipped up over to the other side and probably about 200 yards got pushed across the dessert from the percussion and blast. The door was blown off and the roof was peeled back like a sardine can.”
Four contractors were killed and another sixteen were injured.
Blount helped with the rescue and recovery of all the injured and dead.
When he got back to the base the commander ordered him to get checked out. Blount noted the blood on his uniform wasn’t his but he had several injuries he was unaware of at the time.
“By the time we got to the hospital, I woke up the following night and I had a concussion, broken right collarbone, the left long and short tendons in my shoulder and biceps were snapped in two, I had cramped a lot of arteries across my lap from that 60 pound vest slammed into you. You can’t put a number on getting whiplash. It’s been 11 years and I’m still doing doctor’s appointment. In the end, they said I was on an adrenaline rush and didn’t feel any pain.”
A week later, Blount was sent back to the states to begin his long recovery.
“This is the highest award the Secretary of Defense can give out,” Blount said.
In addition to the award, Blount will have a special car tag that he actually designed. For more information regarding the event, please contact the senator’s office at (601) 965-4459.