Two soldiers receive American Hero Awards in ceremony aboard Yorktown

(Left) Cpl. Mike Jernigan, a retired U.S. Marine who lost both of his eyes after being wounded by a IED in Iraq in 2004 shares stories and a laugh with Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Carpenter after an American Hero awards cermony. The ceremony sponsored by Trojan Labor was held on the Yorktown and honored Jernigan and posthumously honored Army Staf Sgt. Tyler Smith who was killed in action in April in Afghanistan. Carpenter is also a past recipient of the award. (Grace Beahm/

MOUNT PLEASANT - Two soldiers were recognized this morning, one posthumously, for their sacrifices on the battlefield in the annual 2012 American Hero Awards.

Recognized this year were: Corporal Michael Jernigan, a third generation Marine from Tampa, Fla.

Just six months into his first deployment in Iraq, he was catastrophically wounded by an I.E.D. on August 22nd, 2004 in Mahmudiyah.

He suffered the loss of both eyes, a traumatic brain injury, and manages PTSD.

But since being wounded, Jernigan has made great strides towards recovery, graduating with a history degree at the University of South Florida.

He also was part of the HBO documentary “Alive Day” and has written for the New York Times website.

Jernigan also helped pioneer and fundraises for the “Paws for Patriots,” a veterans program at Southeastern Guide Dogs Inc. The other soldier recognized is

Staff Sgt. Tyler J. Smith, formerly of Ft. Bragg, N.C.

He joined the Army in May 2006. In addition to his two tours of duty in Afghanistan, he previously deployed to Iraq for 15 months in June 2007.

Smith was on his second deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed last month by an improvised explosive device in Kandahar province.

The award is sponsored by Trojan Labor and the event was held during a breakfast on the USS Yorktown at Patriots Point.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.