Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mullins stands outside the Alamodome in San Antonio, site of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Photo by Rachael Tolliver/U.S. Army Cadet Command

In 2005, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mullins' platoon was returning to base in Mosul, Iraq, when it discovered a bomb in the middle of the road. Before the explosive ordnance unit could arrive, a speeding car zoomed down the road, aiming for Mullins' squad.

"After verbal and visual signals and a warning shot, I opened fire on the driver, causing him to veer to the right," Mullins said. "The car exploded just to the right of the squad, saving the life of my squad members. I received the only injuries to the face and body from the explosive inside the car. I stood my ground to protect my fellow Soldiers and refused to give up my position on the line until I was no longer able."

His adherence to the mission and to his fellow Soldiers was instrumental in Mullins' selection as one of the Army's 2013 Soldier Heroes.

The Army Soldier Hero program highlights the achievements of Soldiers who have demonstrated acts of heroism and valor in the face of extreme adversity during combat. Their role was to mentor athletes selected to play in the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a nationally televised annual high school football all-star game held each January in San Antonio.

Mullins, an Army ROTC instructor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, said he's honored to be selected among "all the great Soldiers who are serving this great nation."

His Army awards and decorations include V devices for his Bronze Star, Air Medal and Joint Service Commendation Medal. V devices are awarded for valor, an attribute he displayed during his deployment to Mosul, Iraq, in 2005.

His adherence to the mission and to his fellow Soldiers is something he wants to encourage in AAB athletes, just as he does when instructing Army ROTC Cadets. Among other instructor duties, he's the unit's land navigation expert.

With 12 years in Alaska, Mullins understands the frontier's harshness, knowledge he draws on when teaching survival skills to the Cadets, said Capt. Levi Lewellyn, assistant professor of military science the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

"Sgt. 1st Class Mullins has multiple combat deployments in many different roles," Lewellyn said. "He served as an infantryman and mortarman in Iraq. He also has spent two to three years working in a brigade S-4 shop, which gives the Cadets a different look at how acquisitions and logistics operations are conducted."

Mullins, who played high school football in Macon, Ga., and Rockford, Ala., looks forward to exchanging stories with the AAB athletes.

"I'm interested in what gave them the drive to accomplish to get them where they are today," he said.

He also wants to teach them about teamwork, a hallmark of both the Army and successful sports teams.

"It's all about teamwork and giving 110 percent," Mullins said. "Never quit."

Page last updated Tue January 8th, 2013 at 15:21