ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Each month, WALB and Montlick and Associates recognize the “Heroes Among Us.” We spotlight an active duty man or woman, a veteran or a fallen hero.
X’xavier Ward joined the Army after he graduated from Monroe Comprehensive High School in 2010.
Ward was an aircraft fueler, but he picked up other jobs while he served in Afghanistan for a one-year tour.
“I pulled security in the guard tower. I was on the medic team,” Ward said. “I got to help a lot of people, not only military but locals, foreigners, I also helped them out.”
He said his experience serving on the medic team overseas led him to join the medical field.
Now, Ward is an emergency medical technician.
“You see the movies and everything. Once you get over there, it’s real,” Ward said. “The IEDs, the mortar rounds, they’re real.”
“I just don’t see how you can get up every morning, every day, to face the things you face,” his wife, LaShonda Walker-Ward said to her husband.
Ward’s wife said his desire to help others paved the way for him to help keep both his family and others safe in the face of two different tragic events.
In January 2017, he was mostly working with dialysis patients.
“I just got off of work, went to sleep,” he said of what he was doing on January 22 that year. “My oldest daughter came in saying, ‘I heard a train. I hear a train.’”
An EF-3 tornado hit Dougherty County that afternoon.
“To you, it was like, ‘this is what I have to do,’ but to us, you scooped us up in five seconds,” his wife said. “You grabbed me out of the bed, you grabbed four children out of the bed, and you threw us in the bathtub. Literally, it was seconds.”
He stood guard, keeping them all safe.
“That was my first instinct: to protect them,” the veteran said.
A few years later, his family faced another major crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I myself am a COVID survivor,” he said. “My mother, my father, both my sisters are COVID survivors. It kind of hit home.”
Everyone is doing better now, but the pandemic is still taking its toll.
“My six years of doing EMS, that was the most difficult period that I had,” he said. “In Afghanistan, we saw danger when it comes. We hear it, see it. With this virus, you can’t see it at all. By the time you feel it, it’s kind of too late. You already got it.”
Even in the midst of challenges, X’xavier’s wife said his military training will kick in, and he’ll gladly do whatever it takes to help others.
“I remember you putting on your reflective jacket. You were smiling,” she said. “You were like, ‘once a soldier, always a soldier. This is what I was born to do. This is what I’ve got to do.’”
If you know a special military hero you want to nominate, click here.