Mint Hill Police Sgt. Michael Gainey was recently named an American Hero by the Department of Defense for some work he did on his other job – drill sergeant in the 108th Training Command, U.S. Army Reserve.
In January 2007, he went to Iraq as a member of the National Police Transition Team assigned to train members of the 1st Iraqi National Police Division.
While there, he was a gunner on one of three Humvees that were following a foot patrol of American soldiers and Iraqi police, seeking a safe place for a police station near the Tigris River.
Snipers in a two-story building had pinned down the soldiers on foot. As Gainey started shooting, a bullet tore through the metal turret two inches above his head and shrapnel cut his hand and neck.
He kept fighting.
The Humvees managed to get in front of the soldiers and they piled in and were driven to safety.
When they returned to the base, Gainey realize the extent of his injuries.
“It was real close. Two inches isn't much at all,” he said.
He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
He returned to Mint Hill on Dec. 21, in time to spend Christmas with his family.
While proud of his service to his country, Gainey shrugs off the extra attention, saying he was only doing his job. He credits his wife, Anne Marie, as the real hero.
“She had our 1-year-old son Ethan to take care of, she was pregnant, and she was working full time at home and at her job.”
To read more about Gainey and other American Heroes, visit the U.S. Department of Defense's Web site at www.defenselink.mil/heroes.