Skaneateles soldier and family engaged in battles

Tour of Duty, Iraq, October 2008

In a split second of horrific thunder, the IED, Improvised Explosive Device exploded just as the humvee rolled over it. Instantly the air was a thick combination of road rubble and blinding dust. The force of the blast tore at the vehicle carrying Army Specialist and Skaneateles native Bill Blessing Jr.

Blessing was in the humvee's gun turret manning a .50 caliber machine gun when he realized the men outside were still in trouble. He jumped from the vehicle, exposing himself to enemy fire and assisted his fellow soldiers getting them to a safe spot. Specialist Blessing was wounded in the initial blast and earned the honor of a Purple Heart, a medal awarded to those wounded in battle. Believing his wounds didn't warrant the decoration, Blessing turned it down.

Bill Blessing Jr., son of Bill Sr. and his wife, Sue, was still in high school when he didn't tell his parents about meeting with an Army recruiter. When he did tell them, they weren't terribly shocked. From an early age, Bill Jr. was a natural outdoor kid. Always playing soldier with younger brother, Chris, they fought and defeated imaginary enemies lurking in the hillside trees behind their Franklin Street home. Bill Jr.'s enlistment seemed a forgone conclusion. His patriotism and ambition to serve were solidified by the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. By the time Bill Jr. graduated Skaneateles High School in 2006, he'd already chalked up time at Fort Drum with the Army's early entry program.

Fast forward to Iraq 2008

For his heroic action under direct enemy fire and safely retrieving a fallen comrade, Blessing humbly accepted the Commendation Medal. Proud to be serving, as are a majority of today's soldiers who enlist in the Armed services, Blessing wasn't in it for medals. He felt it was his duty.

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