CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina soldier is being hailed a hero after saving a local mother from a burning vehicle, using his body as a human shield to protect her from flying debris.

Brandy Guin was on her way to pick up her two children, ages one and two, from their grandparents’ house when a car crossed the center lane and smashed into her vehicle at 45 mph.

“He swerved into my lane and hit me head on,” Brandy recalled. “I heard people start yelling, ‘There’s gas, you’ve got to get her out of the car, and that’s when Cory came running up.”

Sergeant Cory Hinkle, a combat veteran, was driving home from his post at North Carolina's National Guard. He was driving right behind Brandy when it happened, and rushed to free her from the crumpled car.

“He laid me down in the grass and that’s when the car burst into flames,” Brandy said. “It started exploding, pieces flying off the motor. It was coming towards us and he covered my body with his body to protect me from any further injury. He literally laid his life on the line to cover me.”

The flaming shards of metal piercing his back, Cory shielded Brandy until medic arrived.

“He kept telling me it’ll have to get through me to get to you,” Brandy said. "He’s just the true definition of a hero.”

She’s not the only one who thinks so. Over the weekend, Cory was presented with the Governor’s Award for Excellence. Brandy was in the front row.

“I’m so happy he’s getting this award and getting this recognition because he deserves it,” she said. “Thank you, thank you for saving me, thank you for giving me the opportunity to go back home to my kids, thank you for being you.”

Hinkle saids he's humbled by the recognition, telling us he was just doing his job -- to protect and serve.

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