The Air Force calls Jordan Kellog a hero. The 35 civilians whose lives he saved likely do too.
But Kellog reserves that title for his mom, Violentta Carr.
"She's really proud of me. But I tell her that she's my hero because you know she's the real fighter. I just done the right thing. I just done what she raised me to do," said Kellog, 23, who recently got out of the Air Force as a Senior Airman, E-4.
While serving as a military police officer in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Jordan risked his life to save others trapped in a compound on fire.
"It was on fire and it was coming toward them so I was like we gotta try and get these guys out," Kellog said. He and four others are credited with tearing down a fence that helped civilians escape the fire.
The Air Force awarded him with the Airman's Medal for his bravery. But when it came time for the ceremony at a Texas Air Force base, Kellog had already gotten out of the service and come home to Jellico to be with his mom.
After battling five different types of cancer, Kellog said there are no more treatment options available for his mom.
"It's just finally took its toll I guess," Kellog said.
He didn't want to leave her side so he had his medal shipped in the mail.
He kept it quiet, but the significance of the award wasn't lost on longtime friend and Campbell County's Veterans Service Officer, Kevin Walden.
"I told him, I said, 'Well let's do it here then. And let's present it in front of your family and your community right here in Jellico, Tennessee,'" said Walden.
His mom didn't have the strength to be at the Wednesday night ceremony in person. But Kellog says she was there in spirit.
Walden formally pinned the medal and read the presidential wording on his certificate to a crowd of hundreds at the Jellico Veteran's Park.
"I just want to thank God," Kellog said to the audience. "He got rid of my fear to go into the compound. And he's giving me strength right now to be here."
Kellog says if he could give his mom his medal, he would.
"She deserves it. She's the one who taught me to do the right thing," he said.
Instead he'll wear it proudly in her honor.
Doctors say Carr is in her final days.