"He's just cut from that kind of cloth. He's been a hero before."
To really understand Kevin Paulding's story, you have to start long before he was fighting for the stars and stripes. He was 8, his sister, Valerie, 11. They were playing near a backyard pond when Valerie fell through the ice.
"My brother was walking around the pond. Trying to find a stick or something to pull me out."
Quick-thinking Kevin and the family dog were able to pull Valerie to safety. And, if you thought that would be the end of Kevin's bravery, it was only Act 1.
"One of the most horrific days in my life. I remember his phone call that day as though it were yesterday. The school bus that they were on went down a 30 foot embankment."
Flash forward to 2003. Kevin was one of 15 students aboard this bus in Vandalia. A neighborhood friend was able to bust open an emergency hatch. Then Kevin rushed into action again.
"He went midway down the bus, jumped off and started pulling the little kids out of the emergency hatch."
Kevin got an award for his bravery, and it turns out, it wouldn't be the last. His mother got the call just a few weeks ago.
"I'm like, 'Oh my god.'"
While on duty in Baghram, Afghanistan, one of Kevin's fellow soldiers was in a truck that flipped over. Without even thinking twice, that hero reflex kicked in one more time.
"I climbed up on top. I got the door open and I helped get him out of the vehicle."
Kevin got an honorary coin from the military for his action. His family says they didn't expect anything less, and they don't see his bravery stopping any time soon.
"It's indescribable. Just knowing that he's that wonderful of a person. That he would do anything for anybody. It kind of brings tears through my eyes."
"I'm very proud of him, and I love him very much."
Kevin deployed for Afghanistan last fall. He's due back in Central Illinois in September.