SNELLVILLE - Cpl. Jon Ayers would have said he was just doing his job, his mother said.
For his heroism and valor during the July 13 battle of Wanat, Afghanistan, the U.S. Army posthumously awarded Ayers the Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration, during a ceremony Sunday at Ayers' alma mater, Shiloh High School, Suzanne Ayers said Monday.
"It was really just a very moving and uplifting ceremony," she said. "We felt a lot of pride and honor as to what he had done to save the lives of his fellow soldiers."
Jon's 26-year-old brother, Joshua, accepted the medal, a gold star superimposed with a laurel wreath encircling a silver star. "For gallantry in action" is inscribed on the back of the award.
The 2002 Shiloh graduate and former Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) commander was one of nine soldiers killed in an insurgent raid that penetrated an American outpost in eastern Afghanistan. It was the deadliest incident for U.S. forces in Afghanistan since June 2005, when 16 American soldiers were killed as a rocket-propelled grenade shot down a helicopter.
His company commander said his actions saved the lives of others, Suzanne Ayers said.
"It was bittersweet," she said. "(Jon) would have said he didn't deserve it (the award) - that he was just doing his job."
Between 400 and 500 people attended Sunday's ceremony, Suzanne Ayers said. Members of the Patriot Guard Riders lined the walls, and Shiloh's Junior ROTC provided escort services for dignitaries. Snellville Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and State Rep. Melvin Everson, R-Snellville, both made presentations, and the Lawrenceville Veterans of Foreign Wars provided refreshments.
"So many people did everything they could to make this a great ceremony," Suzanne Ayers said.
Jon Ayers was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy. In addition to his mother and brother, he was survived by his father, Bill.