By By Sgt. 1st Class Carlos J. Lazo, 302nd Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentJanuary 4, 2013
SAN ANTONIO -- Soldier, college student, parachutist, electrician, police officer and soon to be reporter. All of these words describe Staff Sgt. Dallas Pierce, with the 21st Military History Detachment, 205th Public Affairs Operations Center, at Fort Meade, M.D.
But this week, the 38-year-old U.S. Army Reserve Soldier is known as a "Soldier Hero."
Pierce is one of 55 Soldiers being recognized during the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl week in San Antonio. The All-American Bowl game is scheduled to be held at the Alamodome Jan. 5.
"It's a great honor to be selected, to represent the entire Army," Pierce said. "One of seven from the Reserve. For me, its a great honor to be picked to represent all of my brothers and sisters in uniform."
Since 2002, the Army has hosted the All-American Bowl, highlighting the 90 best high school football players, 125 best high school marching band musicians and color guards from across the nation. Pierce, a native of Sudlersville, Md., is spending the week interacting with those students going through the same activities and events.
"It's a privilege to sit down with these high school students," Pierce said. "I can remember when I was 18 and what I wanted to do with my life. The Army gave me a great opportunity to learn how to do something, get paid for it and have a good time doing it."
During his 19-year career, Pierce has deployed three times -- twice to Iraq with the Army Reserve and once to Bosnia while on active duty. It was during his second tour to Iraq, between 2005-2006, that his actions would lead him to San Antonio in 2013.
"In 2006, we were in the Diyala Province, Iraq," Pierce said. "I was part of a military transition team. We were training an Iraqi Army battalion and they had two checkpoints. One checkpoint came under attack, we were going to provide relief to them from our (Forward Operating Base) and our convoy was ambushed enroute.
"My vehicle was disabled during the initial ambush and I was the gunner. For the first 20-25 minutes we were there, myself and my TC (passenger side occupant) were the only two that were in the killzone and returning fire. At some point during the engagement I was wounded
in my left arm."
Pierce didn't even register the would, in fact, he has no memory of feeling it.
"Finally, other vehicles came to recover us," he said.
Unfortunately, the first vehicle that tried to retrieve them was also disabled. With two vehicles disabled, a third vehicle was forced to try to recover both. It did, but the recovery was slow.
"It took six to seven hours," Pierce said, "evading and cutting across the desert back to an American base."
Once back, he was treated for his wounds, which were a result of a possible ricochet or shrapnel that left a nearly two-inch scar on his forearm. The next day he was out on another mission with his unit.
For his actions, Pierce was awarded a Bronze Star with V device and the Purple Heart.
That was enough recognition for the current full-time college student but not his for friends and coworkers. Three years ago, his friend and former TC sent him a form to apply for recognition at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He thought about it and decided to apply. He was not called. The following year, his friend sent him the form again, and he still wanted to go, so he applied.
No call or email.
For 2013, he decided not to apply. But then came the recommendations from friends and coworkers, and shortly thereafter, the form was in the mail. A couple of weeks later, he received an email.
Now, days after the new year, Pierce is in San Antonio for the first time and experiencing the U.S. Army All-American Bowl first-hand. But even after the week ends, Pierce will be known as a Soldier Hero.