A Camdenton High School graduate now living in Crocker was recently honored with a Purple Heart for his heroic actions while serving in Iraq nearly ten years ago.

A Camdenton High School graduate now living in Crocker was recently honored with a Purple Heart for his heroic actions while serving in Iraq nearly ten years ago.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jimmy Boulware, 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, received a Purple Heart decoration during a promotion recognition ceremony on July 31 for injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED) Oct. 6, 2005 while deployed to Iraq.

Then an Airman 1st Class, Boulware was serving on his first deployment at Balad Air Base, now Joint Base Balad. He rode as truck commander along with gunner Staff Sgt. Starkey and truck driver Senior Airman Salinas.

"We were tasked with escorting some Army cargo from Balad up to Tikrit," said Boulware. "Everything was normal as we got past a check point. Then the front gun truck called out a possible IED."

The convoy continued on its route while Soldiers and Airmen kept an extra eye out for explosives.

"Everyone said to stay alert and I turned to my gunner, Sergeant Starkey, and told him there was a possible IED," said Boulware. "He asked me why we weren't stopping and I said I didn't know."

The cargo haulers and gun trucks rolled on without incident until the last truck in the convoy came upon a 155mm shape charge lying beside the road. Boulware, Starkey and Salinas were in that truck.

"It was the loudest thing I've ever heard," said Boulware. "Salinas swerved as it detonated on my side of the truck and it cut all our air lines, went through the wheel axles, went through the bed and blew out three of our tires."

Boulware said that they were traveling 55 miles per hour and had no traction when the blast hit them, causing the driver to lose control.

"It blew the whole vehicle sideways and then we ran off the road and flipped," said Boulware. "We did a handstand before the truck flipped onto its side and then we crawled out of the gun turret."

The truck was heavily armored so Boulware and his crew did not get hit by any shrapnel, but the equipment inside the truck created additional problems for the Airmen.

"We had a double combat load so we had 14 magazines for each M4 carbine, 1,000 rounds of .50-caliber, an extra .50-caliber barrel, two radio systems and a lot other equipment that is secured down," said Boulware. "Stuff tends to fly when you flip."

When he returned from his deployment, medical personnel diagnosed him with torn ligaments and tendons. When Boulware came to Eielson, he was seen by a traumatic brain injury clinic and further diagnosed with TBI, concussion and post-concussion symptoms.

"They got me in touch with Johnny Hernandez, the Alaska Air Force Recovery Care Coordinator," said Boulware. "He entered me into the Air Force Wounded Warrior program and submitted my package."

Boulware discovered he would receive a Purple Heart one day after finding out he was selected for promotion to technical sergeant.

"The Air Force isn't just about flying," said Boulware. "We're out there doing the job on the ground and without these guys, troops can't get any water, ammo or fuel."

Boulware returned to Iraq in 2009 for a deployment of 217 days, including training. He and his gun truck company participated in 144 escort missions and traveled a total of 76,000 miles.

"Be considerate to your bus, aircrew and shuttle drivers and other support personnel because you never know what they've been through on deployments," said Boulware. "Take pride in your job, you never know what you'll be tasked with on a deployment."

Boulware was born and raised in Crocker. He graduated from Camdenton High School in 2002. He is the son of the late Larry Boulware and Shirley and Craig Schuld. His mother and stepfather still live in the area.