DIAMOND BAR, Calif. — Nexen Tire America Inc. and the Purple Heart Foundation have selected a retired U.S. Army sergeant and Iraq war veteran from North Carolina as the 2019 Nexen Hero, Nexen Tire's initiative to honor the nation's heroes.
As the recipient of the second annual Nexen Hero award, retired Army Master Sgt. Brian Porter will receive a modified 2020 Jeep Gladiator Sport S.
Mr. Porter's military career spanned nearly three decades, more than half of which was spent with special forces, Nexen said, including completing the Army's Special Forces Qualification Course to earn the coveted Green Beret.
He was wounded in 2004 during a second tour of duty in Iraq with the elite 75th Ranger Regiment.
While returning to base after a combat operation in Fallujah, Mr. Porter 's convoy was ambushed. The vehicle he was riding in was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) that detonated under it. Mr. Porter absorbed the full impact of the explosion to his face, resulting in a near-death experience, Nexen said.
After multiple surgeries to restore his ability to eat and breathe on his own without assistance, Mr. Porter returned to active service to rejoin his unit and completed two additional tours to Iraq before retiring in 2013. The injuries caused by the IED explosion have required more than 33 surgeries.
For his actions in combat and the injuries he suffered, Mr. Porter was awarded the Purple Heart Medal. He continues to serve the country in a civilian role as an exercise planner for the U.S. Army. He is married, has two children and resides in Fort Bragg, N.C.
"It's an unbelievable honor to be selected by Nexen Tire and the Purple Heart Foundation as the recipient of the Nexen Tire Jeep Gladiator," Mr. Porter said. "To me, this custom Jeep is more than just a cool vehicle — it's a symbol that helps bring awareness to the thousands of combat-wounded veterans across the nation.
"Like me, these brave veterans have suffered unbelievable injuries on the battlefield, and it's humbling to see organizations like Nexen step up and join the Purple Heart Foundation to help share our stories to help improve the lives of wounded veterans."
Stephen Ruckman, CEO of the Purple Heart Foundation, said: "Working with Nexen Tire has helped raise tremendous awareness for courageous individuals like Brian Porter who have fought for our country and deserve to be recognized for their sacrifices.
"Brian served our country for nearly three decades and, even though he deals with the effects of his battlefield wounds on a daily basis, he continues to work for the U.S. Army as a civilian, representing the unwavering commitment of our Purple Heart veterans to the nation."
John Hagan, executive vice president of sales for Nexen Tire America, said Mr. Porter's story "exemplifies what the Nexen Hero program is all about — courage, sacrifice and bravery in the face of insurmountable odds. The entire Nexen organization is in awe of these veterans' stories and it was a privilege to hear Brian's story during the evaluation process."
As part of the Nexen Hero Gladiator Build, Nexen Tire again partnered with several leading automotive aftermarket companies in the industry to help transform the Jeep Gladiator into a vehicle fit for a Purple Heart recipient. Nexen enlisted the help of vehicle customizer Kenny Pfitzer of Zero to 60 Designs for a second time to spearhead the build of the unique vehicle, which features 35-inch Nexen Roadian MTX Xtreme off-road tires