ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Thousands of American troops will spend the holidays on the front lines in Afghanistan and in dangerous areas in Iraq.
Many veterans of those wars have returned to their homes and families without much fanfare.
November is Veterans Recognition Month, and war fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan are among those now being honored for their service.
32 year old Wesley Braswell earned one of the highest American honors; The Bronze Star with Valor, for his heroic actions almost five years ago in Iraq.
Today he works in Albany, and is raising his three kids, and very few people know he is a soldier honored for his heroic conduct under fire in combat.
Wesley Braswell says he is no hero, as he holds his Bronze Star with Valor certificate. "I was just a regular Army guy who just did what I had to do in order to get the job done. But I never thought that I would get anything like that."
On January 12, 2006 Specialist Braswell was a team medic, driving a truck in a convoy headed across Northern Iraq, when the lead truck hit an IED and exploded. Live ammunition in the truck was going off as it burned, with three wounded men inside. Braswell went in to save them.
"There was nothing but thick smoke and fire, flames coming out. I checked to make sure it was safe enough for me to break through. But I heard the people. I had to get to them, so there was no other way. So I went through there, got to the people," Braswell said.
While Braswell tended the wounded, he fired warning shots at another suspected enemy vehicle approaching them. Their maps were burned up in the attack, but Braswell was able to lead the convoy to their destination because he knew the area.
Now out of the Army, Braswell says his comrades can look back with pride at their fight to bring freedom to Iraq. "You've got to have heart to go over there and do that. You've got to have heart and to have faith."
Braswell says he still thinks daily about Iraq and the Americans who died there, and prays for the men and women still serving there and in Afghanistan.
Braswell said an officer just handed him his Bronze Star with Valor in an envelope, without any ceremony. He says he still keeps in touch with many of his comrades by Facebook.
Braswell works at Teleperformance. He'll continue his computer studies at Albany Tech in January.