Pelham veteran battling for his life

Matthew Blount's family and friends are all smiles as he stands up out of his wheelchair to greet them at the Birmingham Airport on Jan. 26. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

In the late 2000s, Pelham native Matthew Blount, an Army veteran of the Iraq War, a father and a husband, was on top of the world.

Blount, who was among the first soldiers on the ground during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, was taking classes at Jacksonville State University through the Army’s ROTC program, and was planning to re-enter active military duty as an officer after his graduation.

But in late 2009, Blount’s plans changed when he was diagnosed with stage four Ewing sarcoma, a rare type of cancer found in bone or soft tissue.

“I had finished everything necessary with the ROTC. I had placed first anywhere I went on a national level and I was in the top 5 percent in the nation on the merit list,” Blount said, noting he would have been commissioned as a first lieutenant and the military had offered him his first choice of base and branch upon graduation.

“Upon my treatments for sarcoma, they had to disenroll me for medical reasons,” Blount said Jan. 25 as he sat in a room in the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “All that had to be given back because of my disenrollment.”

Today, Blount is battling leukemia after already defeating cancer twice.