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For 10 years in “Heroes,” Stars and Stripes has been shining a spotlight on men and women for exceptional acts of valor in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Most are humbled by the medals they earned. Others say they aren’t heroes at all — just doing their duty, doing the job.

“Buy me a cup of coffee,” Master Sgt. Delorean Sheridan says of the actions that earned him a Silver Star during his sixth deployment. “We’ll call each other even.”

As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, we continue to tell these stories of courage and camaraderie, celebrating the lives and deaths of those who gave nothing less than everything for others.

Like Sgt. Wade Wilson, who faced down an insurgent who opened fire on a truck full of Marines. He put himself between a wounded Marine and the shooter, suffering multiple gunshot wounds before forcing the insurgent toward other Marines, who killed him. “Wade was born to be a friend. That’s how he died,” his mother Cindy Easterling said.

Like Sgt. Kyle White, who received the Medal of Honor for repeatedly braving enemy gunfire to try to save his comrades, despite being wounded himself.

Like the 24 men from World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam whose bravery wasn’t fully recognized until this year, when their medals were upgraded to the highest one: the Medal of Honor.

We all hope there’s something heroic in us, but most will never get the chance to find out. For the elite men and women who act on instinct in the face of danger and are prepared to die for someone else, there’s no medal that can honor them enough.

— Tina Croley, Enterprise Editor

Stars and Stripes - Heroes 2014