Soldier awarded highest no-combat honor

Published 04/04 2013 04:26PM

Updated 04/04 2013 05:38PM

CHAMPAIGN -- Thursday a hero was recognized for putting his life on the line. Staff Sergeant Mark Rogers was awarded the Soldier's Medal. WCIA-3's Jessica Shaw was there for the ceremony.

It was a rare moment as one officer has been in the military for 30-years. In that time, he's only seen two of these medals handed out. One went to Staff Sgt. Rogers for saving his family's lives. It's an honor given to the bravest soldiers.

"You, sir, are truly a hero."

People like Staff Sgt. Mark Rogers, who jumped into a burning car to save his son, his daughter and his wife.

"I was asleep when it happened. I woke up and there was fire everywhere."

Five years ago, the family's car got stuck in a highway pile-up. A semi-truck and the car caught fire. The doors were pinned closed.

"I remember he got out first."

"I jumped on the hood of the car."

"He just broke the window with his knee."

"I pulled out my son, I pulled out my daughter. I came back in and pulled out my wife."

Rogers would spend the next eight months fighting for his own life. 70% of his body was covered in third-degree burns.

"I didn't do anything special really. I did what any father would have done."

Most heroes tell you that, but the award says otherwise.

"Staff Sergeant Mark D. Rogers for heroism."

The Soldier's Medal is the highest honor of valor anyone can get in a no-combat situation. Fewer than 200 are awarded annually.

"Everyone clapped all the time, so I was pretty sure it was a pretty big deal."

And an even bigger deal, "having my kids here. It means the world to me."

"I'm really proud of you for saving us and you really earned that medal."

"I love him. Love him. He's the best father in the world."

Rogers says military training played a big role in all this. He served two tours in Iraq and says that's how he knew exactly what to do.

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