SSG (Ret.) Jay Fondren*, USA
SSG (Ret.) Jay Fondren was born in Corsicana, Texas and recalls his his grandfather, a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, teaching him how to salute and march at a very young age. He was an active young man and attended Dallas Baptist University, where he met his future wife, Anne.
Fondren’s service with the in Iraq began in March 2004. On the day before Thanksgiving 2004, a roadside bomb shredded his patrol vehicle. The blast took both Jay's legs and severely damaged his arms. When the chaplain at the aid station approached him, Fondren declared, “Sir, I’m not going to die here. I told my wife before I left, that I’d be back home.” Jay would later recieve the Bronze Star for his exceptional bravery in evacuating a wounded soldier under intense small arms and Rocket Propelled Grenade fire.
After a transfer to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Jay was in a coma for nearly three weeks. Jay said that he was calm when he woke up and states, “I didn’t need to know why it happened. I know there’s a God that does. You can ‘what if’ it to death, but it’s not going to change anything.”
As a result of his deep empathy for others who are injured, and because of his courageous example of overcoming the handicapping effects of disabilities, Jay is often called on by medical staff members to encourage seriously injured and depressed servicemembers and veterans.
After retiring from the Army in October 2005, Jay returned to his family in Texas. He now spends his time helping other veterans as a Veterans Service Representative for the Waco Veterans Affairs Regional Office.
* Home Grant Recipient