Extraordinary Joe: Local veteran receives numerous honors for heroic actions

ST. GEORGE — Joe Hamblin, aka “Extraordinary Joe,” received the Medal of Valor Wednesday evening at the American Legion Post 90. Hamblin is a veteran who risked his life — despite an injured foot — to assist a stricken woman in an out-of-control vehicle. In addition to the Medal of Valor, Hamblin received numerous other commendations from the City of St. George, Washington County and the state of Utah.

On March 31, Hamblin was driving his pickup truck on Bluff Street when he noticed an out-of-control vehicle. He realized the female driver was slumped over unconscious. Despite recent foot surgery, Hamblin sprang into action, jumping onto the moving vehicle and guiding it to safety at great risk to himself.


Read more: Extraordinary Joe: Veteran risks life to help stricken driver


At Wednesday’s ceremony, numerous awards were given out, the majority of which went to members of the American Legion. The Citizen of the Year Award was given to Jerry Olson, administrator of the Southern Utah Veterans Home. Olson won the award for his dedication to caring for veterans.

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher congratulates Joe Hamblin during an award ceremony at the American Legion Post 90 in St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher congratulates Joe Hamblin during an award ceremony at the American Legion Post 90, St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

However, the evening was primarily about honoring Hamblin for his actions. In addition to receiving the valor medal, he was also given recognition from the City of St. George, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, the Washington County Commission and the Utah House of Representatives.

“Too often in what we deal with in our community, people are so willing to stop and actually just videotape things,” Sheriff Cory Pulsipher said as he presented Hamblin with a letter of recognition. “It’s really amazing when people are actually willing to put themselves in harm’s danger and actually look out for others. You’ve done it in the service of your country, you’re doing it in the service to this community and it’s greatly appreciated.”

Mayor Pike said there are many times when people come across a situation where someone needs help.

Mayor Jon Pike pins the Medal of Valor on veteran Joe Hamblin during an award ceremony at the American Legions Post 90, St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Mayor Jon Pike pins the Medal of Valor on veteran Joe Hamblin during an award ceremony at the American Legions Post 90, St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

“That’s what happened with Joe,” Pike said. “He saved others, I think, because he was willing to jump in — literally — and help.”

Rep. Jon Stanard was also in attendance representing the Utah House of Representatives.

“(It’s) just awe inspiring to hear about what you were able to do in quick thought and actions,” Stanard said to Hamblin.

Stanard then read a proclamation from the House of Representatives praising Hamblin’s actions.

The Medal of Valor is given to anyone within the community who commits a heroic act, American Legion Adjutant Ski Ingram said.

“He’s a wonderful young man. He is here to serve, which is a great addition to our organization, because that’s what were here to do,” Ingram said. “We gave him the medal because he deserves it. He performed an act of valor, at great risk to his own life and injury to his already injured foot that he received in a war zone.”

Hamblin was given free admission to the American Legion.

During his acceptance speech, Hamblin thanked the St. George Police officers who were present during the crisis, the medical personnel who took over the care of the driver and the two women who had quickly made the 911 calls. He also thanked his family, the St. George Police Department for their daily sacrifices, Mayor Pike and St. George News for the article and video of the incident.

Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher and Medal of Valor recipient Joe Hamblin display some of the numerous awards Hamblin received during an award ceremony at the American Legion Post 90 in St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News
Washington County Sheriff Cory Pulsipher and Medal of Valor recipient Joe Hamblin display some of the numerous awards Hamblin received during an award ceremony at the American Legion Post 90, St. George, Utah, May 25, 2016 | Photo by Don Gilman, St. George News

Hamblin read a poem he wrote when he was stationed in Afghanistan:

“…It’s a beautiful day, but guilt is still mindful, because you aren’t supposed to like where you’re at, then tat … TAT,TAT,TAT,TAT …. SWOOM … Ears pierce …Direction? Natural senses pin ya to the ground …”

His poem brought tears to the eyes of many of those in attendance.

Hamblin’s mother, Violet Unruh, said she was very proud of her son but not surprised at his actions.

“He doesn’t hesitate to stop and help anyone,” she said. “This has happened his whole life. He’s done these things, so it’s nothing new to me. I’m surprised he’s still alive. I’m just grateful to be his mom, just grateful that he’s able to help everyone he can. Especially that day, because it really changed his life.”

After the ceremony, Hamblin said he was humbled by the accolades he had received, adding that he had not expected so many honors. He said:

It’s been very very humbling, and its made this vet find a better purpose in life, a motivation and a wanting to serve this community and … spread the message to others out there who come across a crisis situation to not be scared, not to throw your cameras out and film it, but jump in and help, especially the officers and those who need your help.

Email: dgilman@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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