East Tennessee airman honored with prestigious medal

East Tennessee airman honored with prestigious medal

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

JELLICO (WATE) - An East Tennessee airman was honored Wednesday night for saving the lives of dozens of people while serving in Afghanistan.

At the 9/11 remembrance ceremony in Jellico, Senior Airman Jordan Kellogg was awarded with the Airman's Medal. It's the ninth highest honor in the Air Force, above the Purple Heart.

In November 2012, Kellogg, 23,  ran into a burning building on a compound in Afghanistan and helped rescue 35 people

"You're scared but then you think about it and its the right thing to do so I just went back and sad my prayers," Kellogg explained, remembering that day.

Over 100 people gathered at the Veteran's Memorial in Jellico for a somber ceremony remembering the thousands killed on 9/11. But they were also there to honor Kellogg for his act of bravery.  

"It's an honor to be able to present this high honor to him," explained Tech Sgt. Kevin Walden, the Director of Veteran Affairs in Campbell County.

The awarding of the medal was supposed to be in Texas but Kellogg wanted to be in the heart of Jellico surrounded by his family.

As they pinned the medal to Kellogg's chest,  his heart was heavy for another reason. His mom is fighting for her life against cancer.

"She's the warrior, she's a soldier," Kellogg said holding back tears.

His mother was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, right before he was about to join the air force. It's been a long battle and although she was too sick to be at the ceremony, but he wanted to be near her as he was honored for his heroism.

"It meant a lot to her and for me to do it. Because she's my hero and she keeps me so strong," he said.

Tech Sgt. Walden went to high school with Kellogg's mom and has watched Kellogg grow up. He said she's the reason Kellogg is the man, and the airman, he is today.

"If there was a medal for mothers she would get one," Walden said.

And that's how Kellogg feels, remembering  the moment before he ran into that burning building, he said he thought of his mom and the lessons she taught him. 

"When I was afraid, when I hesitated, I prayed and my fears went away and that's how she always raised me," he said. "She's the hero, and I just wanted to be able to share her story."

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