LYONS, Ore. - A driver killed when his pickup went off the road last week earned the Purple Heart after losing a leg in an IED attack, the first casualty for Oregon's 41st Infantry Battalion after arriving in Iraq in 2009.
Jeremy William Pierce, was found dead, trapped in the driver seat of the pickup he was driving July 19, 2012. He was 25.
Pierce was 22 on Aug. 12, 2009, serving as a gunner for Task Force Atlas, Alfa Battery 2-218 under the 41st Infantry Battalion. Pierce and his fellow soldiers were performing convoy security when an improvised explosive device ripped through his armored security vehicle.
The explosion left Pierce trapped in the turret, a roof compartment at the top of the vehicle.
Pierce shared his story with reporter Cali Bagby, who embedded with the Oregon Army National Guard from Charlie Company, 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation, a Medevac Unit based out of Salem, Ore., for KVAL.com in 2009.
Soldiers at the scene were unable to reach Pierce in the immediate aftermath of the attack.
“It happened so quick, it hit the vehicle, you don’t expect something like that,” Pierce said in 2009. “No one could get to me. I held my thigh so I wouldn’t bleed out, I started to pull myself out of the hatch.”
Once outside of the vehicle, soldiers stayed by his side until Pierce was evacuated on the ground to the nearest base.
“I remember being put into the vehicle, looking at my left hand noticing that I had part of my finger missing," sid Pierce, who lost his left leg, all the toes on his right foot and a part of that finger. "I knew I couldn’t stand up; my boot was in another spot.”
Pierce attributed his survival to the soldiers on the ground who stayed by his side and the Oregon Medevac unit that later transported him to Balad Theater Hospital.
He was awarded the Purple Heart for his service to his country.
After his death last week, his body was taken to Weddle Funeral Home in Stayton.