FORT BLISS, Texas — Army Capt. Kevin Mott is being hailed as a genuine American hero by none less than his new commanding general and the rest of the U.S. Army.
Mott, 27, overcame serious battlefield injuries that could have cost him his life, eventually redeployed and was one of the heroes in a nine-day operation in eastern Afghanistan in the spring of 2011.
On Tuesday, Mott, now stationed at Fort Bliss, was awarded the Silver Star -- the third-highest honor in the military behind only the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.
He was cited for "valorous actions against an armed and heavily fortified enemy" while serving as a platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
Mott "exemplifies what we stand for in the Army in so many ways," said Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commander of the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.
He placed the mission first and never accepted defeat, Pittard said while presenting the award.
"He's a true hero," Pittard said. "Where do you find such men and women of character who put their country first? I'm just glad we have them."
Mott was cited for his efforts in trying to clear out a haven for insurgents in eastern Afghan istan from March 28 to April 6, 2011.
His unit was surrounded by enemy insurgents. He repeatedly put himself in the line of enemy fire so his unit could move and eventually helped to call in a guided bomb strike to end the enemy attack,
according to the award narrative.
"It wasn't only me," said Mott, a native of San Rafael, Calif. "I definitely wasn't by myself. I had a great team of soldiers and NCOs (noncommissioned officers) who helped me out. I wasn't the only guy who received an award from this battle."
Less than a year before, he survived being shot in the head while also deployed in Afghanistan. During that June 2010 incident, his unit was ambushed from nine different positions. Mott also suffered four fractured vertebrae, a fractured rib, a fractured ankle and a torn shoulder ligament. He required 50 sutures and staples in his scalp and a sustained a traumatic brain injury.
After five months of intense physical therapy he rejoined his battalion, in Afghanistan.
"I think I heal faster than most people, and it was hard for the doctors to understand that," Mott said. "I wasn't the easiest patient to work with either. I was 100 percent focused on getting better and worked very hard at getting better."
He cited a great medical team at Fort Campbell with helping him recover.
Mott is now the assistant operations officer for the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss. He will deploy to Afghanistan again later this month with what is colorfully known as the Ready First Brigade.