Returning the favor to a hero

Pelham native Matthew Blount’s calm and humble demeanor does little to reveal the lifetime-worth of achievements the U.S. Army veteran has packed into the past decade.

After joining the Army in 1999, Blount was deployed to Germany before his unit was one of the first deployed to Iraq during the initial 2003 invasion. After serving in the northern part of the country during the Iraq War, Blount returned to Germany for several months before returning home.

Back stateside, Blount led an Army training program to equip soldiers deploying to Iraq with the knowledge he and his comrades gained while fighting during the first months of the war.

When his unit was drawn down, Blount helped to move another unit from Fort Lewis, Wash., to Germany before he began taking classes at Jacksonville State University through the Army’s ROTC program.

During his time in college, Blount was on track to finish at the top of his class locally and nationally.

But Blount’s dream of returning to active duty as an officer was put on hold a few years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer and later developed leukemia. Today, Blount, who is married and is a father, is facing one of the most dangerous battles of his life.

He has already defeated cancer and leukemia twice, but he is still facing a second battle with cancer, and the lengthy ordeal has taken a toll on his body.

Blount recently returned from a trip to the famed MD Anderson Cancer Clinic in Houston, where he learned about some of the medical options available to him. But the medical bills are adding up for Blount and his family, who have greatly supported him through this struggle.

This is where we can help. I encourage everyone to email Blount’s father, Barry, at bkblount@gmail.com to learn how to donate to this heroic family.

Blount has given selflessly to our country for more than a third of his life. The least we can do is return the favor.

Neal Wagner is the city editor for the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at 669-3131 ext. 17 or by email at neal.wagner@shelbycountyreporter.com.