Maj. Jim Gant was given the Silver Star for his actions leading a convoy in Iraq. His convoy was attacked Dec. 12, 2006, by two roadside bombs, and came under machine gun fire, while Gant gave first aid to an Iraqi civilian. (Army)
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RALEIGH, N.C. An officer with Army Special Forces who took the brunt of two roadside bombs while leading his convoy through a brutal trip back to Baghdad has received a Silver Star, the military announced Wednesday.
Fort Bragg-based Maj. Jim Gant, who leads the Iraqi national police's quick reaction unit, spent six weeks at the end of 2006 leading a patrol that frequently battled with insurgents between Baghdad and Balad, 50 miles north of the capital.
On Dec. 12, Gant again led his team through the volatile territory on a final trip back to Baghdad. During the violent journey, Gant and his crew had to hold back insurgents while calling in a helicopter to help airlift an injured Iraqi police officer.
Gant, who has 17 years of experience in the Army, then put his vehicle at the rear of the convoy to take the majority of machine gun fire. And when team members noticed that insurgents had planted improvised explosive devices on the road, Gant told his patrol to wait, deciding that his armored vehicle should take the brunt of the explosions.
"That's typical of Jim Gant," said his wife, Maj. Giselle Pozzerle, who is also based at Fort Bragg. "He leads from the front. If anybody was going to get hit, it was going to be him rather than anyone else."
Finally, in the midst of small-arms fire, Gant performed first aid on a civilian injured in one of the IED explosions. Gant applied tourniquets to the woman's severely injured legs and, remembering his own children, helped get a little girl to safety.
Continuing their battle with insurgents, Gant and his patrol managed to leave the area and eventually made it back to Baghdad.
"All the men I fought with that day showed incredible courage and bravery," Gant, a native of Las Cruces, N.M., said in comments released by the military. "That was one of the highlights of my life working with those men that day."
The Army will award Gant the Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for valor, on Thursday. As of the end of February, the Army had awarded the medal 269 times since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began.
Pozzerle said Gant has had three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. The couple, who met at New Mexico State University, have been married for nearly 12 years and have two children.
"The Jim Gant that I know is the very loving, gentle husband and father," Pozzerle said. "His peers and team know him as very aggressive, very determined and very mission-focused. He's a natural-born leader."