Local Army Hero Gets National Attention

Capt. Zan Hornbuckle
Capt. Zan Hornbuckle

The men and women serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan are all heroes, but up until now, a lot of the attention has been focused on soldiers like Jessica Lynch, a former prisoner of war rescued from an Iraqi hospital. Now that's changing as soldiers are coming home. Their stories are getting a little more attention, too.

WTOC sat down with one soldier making national headlines, who's stationed right here at Fort Stewart. The night before the US went into Baghdad, Capt. Zan Hornbuckle led about 80 men against 200 Iraqi troops. Last night, he was lined up for two national tv interviews, and is still getting used to the limelight. "It's an amazing and terrifying experience all in one," he said.

Doing the national talk show circuit is the last thing he thought he'd be doing when he got back from Iraq. He says their defending of three important targets that kept a main road into Baghdad open was simply a good team effort. "It's not me, it's the soldiers surrounding me," Hornbuckle said. "The reason I'm alive and can take part in all this is because of their contributions."

Hornbuckle shrugs off the hero designation, saying there's not enough airtime to cover every hero in the Army. "I'm surrounded by them every day. Just in my brigade alone with task forces, that's a good 1,000, 1,200 heroes running around."

But individuals have been singled out since March, and none more famous than Jessica Lynch. "She volunteered to serve her country, was wounded in combat," said Hornbuck. "She did her job. I can't take anything away from her."

But Hornbuckle's not sure why she gets more attention than some of the people who put their lives on the line every day. "Everyone who puts on a uniform and serves in combat is a hero in their own right," he said.

Hornbuckle's story first got wide exposure with a Wall Street Journal article, and since then, he's been in a whirlwind of national attention. But being the humble hero, he still says we should be talking to other people, instead.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com