Specialist Jerrod Saunders is a Minden High School alumnus serving in the U.S. Army’s 2nd Stryker Brigade combat team, 25th Infantry Division, out of Schoefield Barracks, Hawaii. His wife Heidi lives with their five kids Brandon, Brodrick, Riley, Sage and Steel, in Minden. Saunders just returned from a 10-month deployment to northern Iraq, operating in the Diyala and Salah ad Din provinces of Iraq.
Diyala province covers an area of 6,828 square miles. In 2003, it had an estimated population of 1.27 million, mostly Sunni Arabs, with a sizeable community of Shia Arabs and Kurds.
Salah ad Din is a governorate in Iraq, north of Baghdad. The governorate has an area of 9,407 square miles. The estimated population for 2003 was 1,042,200 people. The capital is Tikrit. Before 1976 the governorate was part of Baghdad Governorate. Salah ad Din was the home province of Saddam Hussein; he was born in Al-Awja, a town near Tikrit.
During this deployment, Saunders was exiting a Ford Explorer when it was hit by a 107mm shell. Saunders suffered only some hearing loss and a severe concussion, but in the blast, another soldier was severely wounded by shrapnel and was unable to get out of the vehicle. Saunders immediately rushed over, helped the soldier to the ground and applied a tourniquet to the man’s leg, slowing the bleeding until medivac helicopters could arrive.
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