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Poulsbo’s Taylor touted as hero

POULSBO — Little Norway’s own hometown hero has been honored as such by the U. S. Air Force.

Senior Airman Jarred Taylor, a North Kitsap High School graduate, received the Air Force Commendation Medal with valor this month for actions he took in Baghdad one year ago.

And his acts of courage weren’t just noticed by the military. An operating combat camera caught them on tape.

On Feb. 10, 2007, Taylor was at a combat outpost near Sadr City that was under heavy enemy fire.

“Unflinching, Airman Taylor grabbed his rifle and made his way to the roof of the small outpost. Knowing the two roof guards were overwhelmed with enemy fire and without regard to his own safety, Airman Taylor immediately ran through enemy fire and shrapnel to aid in their defense,” reads the award, which is signed by USAF Lieutenant General Gary L. North. “Through his ability to instantly react and instinctively employ both his personal weapon and communicate with overhead aircraft, he helped save the two guards and protect the responding soldiers.”

Taylor was presented the award Feb. 8. Receiving the commendation was meaningful, he said, but having the attached declaration of an act of courage was a true honor, as the distinction is rare.

“The fact that that was attached to the award, it wasn’t like a normal service award,” he said. “It was an award for heroism.”

While he said with a laugh being a hero has its high points, it’s an honor he takes seriously while he works side-by-side with servicemen as a Tactical Air Control Party Journeyman. Journeymen establish ground-to-air communication to protect members of the Army as the Air Force fights from above.

“All the guys in my unit have all been in the same situation,” he said. “Those kind of thoughts don’t cross my mind when that stuff’s happening. I’m used to being shot at. I just get to where I need to be to make sure that I can keep all the dudes that I possibly can alive.”

The seven-minute footage that shows Taylor and his fellow servicemen in action has since been shown on national networks including ABC and FOX news, and is a clip that brings the war in the Middle East home to the American public.

Taylor said while no video camera can capture the complete essence of the experience, for many seeing the footage can serve as a reality check.

Taylor’s award was given for actions during his second Iraq tour; he’s spent 450 days serving the United States in the Middle East.

Taylor and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter. He is now awaiting an evaluation from a medical review board for health issues. If his service continues, he hopes to become an airman ground tactics instructor. He is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

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