Posts Tagged ‘wounded soldiers’
The blast from the mine tore into the American soldier’s body, tossing him backwards through the air like a rag doll. He spun in mid-flight and thumped onto a dirt path 20ft away.
Silence descended for a moment as a large brown cloud of dust settled over his comrades where they crouched between two mud walls. Then the shouting began.
“Medic,” yelled one of the men. The cry was repeated down a line of soldiers. “Get a f****** medic up here now!”
An Afghan soldier who had been caught in the explosion was beyond help. His legs were sliced off above the knees. He quickly bled to death.
The American, however, was conscious and became the focus of frenzied activity.
With their ears ringing from the blast, two US soldiers raced through the haze and knelt beside Specialist Robert Trujillo, 25, an amateur boxer from Denver, Colorado.
When they rolled him onto his back they were shocked by what they saw. Blood pulsed from two gaping wounds on the insides of his thighs. His fingers were smashed and limp. Small stone fragments were embedded in the blackened flesh of his arms and legs.
As Captain Matt Crawford, a 31-year-old intelligence officer from Darlington, Pennsylvania, took in the extent of the injuries, all he could think was: “He’s going to die unless we do something now.”
Crawford and Sergeant Zane Cordingly, a close friend of the injured man, stuffed gauze into the open wounds as pools of blood began to leak into the dirt beneath him.
“He’s bleeding bad. He’s going to bleed out,” said Cordingly, a deeply religious, blond-haired 24-year-old who had himself been knocked flat by the force of the blast.
Both men dug their knees into Trujillo’s groin, pressing their whole body weight down on either side to cut off the blood supply.
Taliban gunmen opened fire 300 yards to our west. Bullets cracked overhead but the battle to save Trujillo continued regardless. “Where does it hurt? Tell me about your baby boy,” Cordingly told Trujillo, fighting to keep his friend alert. “Tell us how you met your wife. How’s the weather in your home state?”
“I met her at a party,” Trujillo struggled to reply. “F*** the weather, man.”
An Afghan soldier attached to the unit started cutting off Trujillo’s body armour. As he bandaged his fingers, he ran out of dressings. He raced over to me, ducking low to avoid incoming rounds, and I handed him bandages and pressure dressings from a pouch on the side of my armour.
“Everything f****** hurts right now, man,” Trujillo groaned, his chest heaving as he sucked in air. “I just want to see my boy Jackson again.”
The men of the 75th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, had no warning that they had walked into a trap laced with improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Alpha Company, from the regiment’s 1st Squadron — known simply as “1-75” — had entered the village of Zenadan, a cluster of mud homes, with the intention of presenting some sheep to celebrate its liberation from the Taliban. The “freedom sheep” did not arrive so the soldiers set about delivering blankets and food. Read the rest of this entry »
Ha ha ha.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing to you from Selly Oak hospital after a somewhat surreal couple of weeks where some chap with an evil-looking beard killed five of my fellow riflemen and injured another four. I would like to quickly let you into the picture, set the story straight (although I understand my brother has done well in keeping the public in the light).
Around 12 days ago I was caught up in a Taliban bomb whilst conducting a foot patrol in Sangin town with the Afghan National Army (these are generally thoroughly nice soldiers who haven’t yet decided whether they would like to kill you or not). My platoon did magnificently to get me on a helicopter where someone could assess my injuries. I have managed to acquire the following:
1. Amputation of left leg (below the knee).
2. Amputation of three fingers to the left hand.
3. Tissue damage to the left arm (at this point I’d like to state that it has been decided that to speed up recovery, my left arm would be better-placed inside my belly. I can feel something grow inside but it may just be a Haribo sweet my brother dropped down there!).
4. Severe lesions to the neck.
5. Tracheotomy (hole in neck to allow breathing. Very odd, yet ever so slightly intriguing to touch).
6. Hearing impaired slightly.
7. Shattered jaw.
8. Broken right elbow and wrist.
9. Severe tissue and muscle damage to the right leg (looks like a bright-purple, plump-breasted guinea-fowl trussed up at your local butchers).
But due to some fortune I have unwittingly earned, I am able still to compose this rather long message. I also have it from good sources that the gentlemen responsible were themselves subjected to a combination of Apache helicopter and Special Forces playtime. Their IED “factory” was destroyed and they met their maker after a relatively brief hellfire missile battle which they lost.Ladies, gentlemen, all to say I am most gratefully alive and most sporadically, temporarily and morphine-gratifyingly pain-free.
Morale has been boosted by the multitude of you who have found time to do some good old-fashioned granny-visiting here in Birmingham, and for that I am forever thankful. Get-well-soon cards and messages of condolence I have growing out of my ears and it is thoroughly and most deeply and sincerely touching. Life here at Selly Oak is great, but everyone must find the fill for each day, so if you do find yourself near, come and reminisce about the days when people had two legs. Unfortunately, my mobile is not yet with me (doing a full tour in Sangin), but I will send you a number where you can get in touch directly.
To all of you, I sign off by saying a big thank you, and that I have realised that there is a huge amount to life that is unappreciated until limbs are lost. You will be chuckling when I am running faster than Usain Bolt on some ridiculous, metallic, spring contraption.
All the best and keep safe,
The blast tore through Sapper Matthew Weston’s body as he searched the mud compound for mines. The rifle he was carrying sliced off his hand, leaving it dangling by a thread of skin. Both his legs were blown off and he could feel the blood gushing from his two remaining stumps as medics leapt on top of him to stem the bleeding with bandages and tourniquets.
The 20-year-old Royal Engineer struggled to sit up, but his fellow soldiers pushed him back to the ground, afraid he might go into shock if he saw what was left of his legs. “It felt like someone smacking me in the head with a baseball bat. My head was thumping and my ears were ringing,” he told me.
Sapper Weston and his team of mine-clearance experts had been tasked with clearing a dirt track that leads through one of the most dangerous parts of Helmand. Night had fallen when the team from 33 Engineer Regiment began to search for bombs in the compounds that lined the track, known to soldiers as Pharmacy Road.
“I was the man at the front,” he said. “I didn’t have any night-vision equipment. They just didn’t have enough to go round,” he said matter-of-factly, as he sat on his hospital bed. As he turned to his commander to give the all-clear, the bomb that would leave him crippled for life exploded. Seven others were wounded in the blast, some with deep lacerations to their necks.
A quick reaction force was dispatched from the nearest British military base 100 metres down the road to evacuate the casualties.
“I didn’t lose consciousness until they put me on the back of the quad bike. That’s the last thing I remember,” he said.
An American medical-evacuation helicopter flew Sapper Weston to the British field hospital in Camp Bastion, where he was immediately rushed onto the operating table by surgeons who thought he would never survive his wounds.
By the time the doctors had finished operating on him, he had lost seven pints of blood, part of his intestine and his spleen. Shrapnel had shredded parts of his liver. When he got to Bastion he still had his right knee, but the doctors were forced to chop it off, leaving him with two stumps for legs.
The next thing he remembered was seeing his sister by his bedside in Birmingham’s Selly Oak hospital. Both Weston’s arms were in casts, attached to a pulley system above his head, which he could barely turn. He asked where his girlfriend was. “I didn’t want her to see me like this. I didn’t realise I’d been unconscious for a week and that they’d been by my bed all along,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Dad, I’m sorry,” were my brother’s first intelligible words, whispered through swollen lips and an oxygen mask. Dad leant in close and told his son how proud he was of him.
For three days we had hovered around Jim’s bedside in Birmingham’s Selly Oak hospital — as he lay doped up on a cocktail of opiates, antibiotics and general anaesthetic — since I had arrived with him on an emergency flight from Afghanistan.
“I am having some pretty weird dreams,” Jim murmured as we strained to hear him.
I had always wanted to be a war correspondent. Ironic, then, that the first casualty of war I saw was my younger brother lying limp and lacerated in a field hospital in Helmand.
It was last Sunday that I received the news I had feared but never thought I would actually hear. I was on assignment for The Sunday Times, covering the largest ground operation launched by British troops in Afghanistan.
In four hours I was meant to be on a Chinook helicopter, air assaulting into a Taliban stronghold as part of operation Panther’s Claw with soldiers from the Black Watch, Royal Regiment of Scotland.
Body armour and bags packed, I was waiting in Camp Bastion, the British base, counting down the hours until we were due to fly and worrying about whether I would be able to understand the Jocks’ thick accents.
Jim, recently arrived in Afghanistan as a second lieutenant in the Rifles, was on another operation.
The telephone in the camp’s media tent rang and I was called in. I thought it would be the press team querying an article I had written.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but your brother has been badly wounded in an explosion,” said a voice I did not recognise.
The body goes numb and the mind races. How badly wounded? Images of my brother with no legs, no arms — worse — left me nauseous.
That morning, mum had sent me an e-mail from England saying she felt “wobbly”. Around the time she e-mailed, in a deadly and uninhabited Helmand town called Wishtan, her 24-year-old younger son had walked onto an “improvised explosive device”. Read the rest of this entry »
THE Taliban opened fire while four British soldiers were crossing a barren field. As they dashed for cover, a bullet tore through the thigh of one of the riflemen, bringing him crashing to the ground as more rounds thudded into the earth beside him.
It would only be a matter of seconds before the Taliban gunmen zeroed in on the fallen soldier stranded 30 yards from his comrades. It took Corporal Daniel “Danger Faz” Farrell, of the 2nd Battalion the Rifles, a moment to realise the danger.“I thought he’d just fallen over so we ran past him initially and went to the edge of a compound. We were still in the kill zone. The soldier was screaming he’d been hit,” Farrell said.
His platoon had been given the task of backing up troops from the Afghan army as they searched villages in an area to the north of the British base in Sangin.
“We couldn’t make out where the bullets were coming from,” said Farrell, 24, who commands a section of eight men in A Company’s 5th Platoon.
“They would either shoot more of us or they would have killed the wounded rifleman.
That’s when I thought we can’t leave him, we have to go back and get him.”
Farrell grabbed a comrade, Rifleman Nathan Hau, and sprinted across the ploughed field towards the fallen soldier, braving another hail of Taliban bullets as they did so. The two soldiers each grabbed an arm, dragging their wounded colleague across the field towards a mud compound and away from the Taliban’s firing position 80 yards to their left.
In the searing heat, the two men finally heaved the wounded rifleman to safety through a section of mud wall blown away during a previous battle with the Taliban.
As the platoon’s medic treated the wounded soldier behind the chest-high wall, Farrell shouted for his shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and fired at the compound from which the Taliban were shooting.
Furious that his rocket missed its target, Farrell hurled its empty tube at the wall and ordered one of his men to pass him the heavy machinegun. “I think when the men saw me in that state, they really caught the buzz and they started to return fire in force,” he said.
The platoon, backed by a team of snipers, let loose a torrent of fire on the Taliban’s position, firing 1,000 rounds and two missiles while they waited for a helicopter to take the wounded soldier to hospital at Camp Bastion.
Only once he had returned to Forward Operating Base Jackson after completing the 12-hour patrol did Farrell realise how narrow his own escape had been. “I looked at my pouch and realised a bullet had hit it,” he said. The round, probably fired from an AK47 rifle, had struck the global positioning satellite monitor he keeps in a hip pouch. Two inches to the right and the bullet would have smashed his thigh bone. “I’m not overreligious but I think my friend who was killed by sniper fire in Iraq is looking over me,” the Liverpudlian said.
The rescued soldier is recovering from a shattered femur in Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham.
Farrell’s platoon commander, Second Lieutenant Tom Parry, paid tribute. “It was really ballsy,” he said. “It takes an incredible amount of courage to do what Corporal Farrell did.”
Eleven soldiers serving with 2 Rifles have died during the first three months of their Afghan tour. All but one were killed by roadside bombs. After a month of fighting, the main British operation in Helmand, known as Panther’s Claw, is moving into its next phase with more than 1,000 ground troops surrounding the Taliban’s remaining stronghold in an area known as Greater Babaji.
The enemy is elusive but there are dramatic moments. On July 7, unmanned drones spotted retreating Taliban fighters lashing empty oil cans to their pickup trucks to ford a canal as British troops advanced through the Nahri Saraj district.
British soldiers monitoring computer screens at the nearest forward operating base were soon looking at live images from an assortment of drones, jets and helicopters circling over the battlefield.
A pair of Apache helicopters fired Hellfire rockets and 30mm cannon, leaving four pickup trucks, a minibus and a number of motorbikes burnt out. About 30 Taliban militants were killed in the raid. Intelligence sources later confirmed that one of the dead men was a mid-level Taliban commander.
The fighting of the past few weeks followed a disastrous decision by British, American and Danish commanders to pay Haji Kaduz, a warlord, to keep the Taliban at bay. The deal went sour 18 months ago when Kaduz began to demand more cash, complaining that he had paid $40,000 out of his own pocket to feed, pay and equip his men.
His stipend was cut and Kaduz reverted to drug-running, extortion, kidnapping and even murder to pay for his militia. The population quickly turned back to the Taliban for protection.
One Danish government official described the deal with Kaduz as “extremely naive”. “We were dancing with the devil. Kaduz is one of the reasons the local people allowed the Taliban to regroup and drive into the area 18 months ago,” said Glen Swanson, the district’s stabilisation adviser, contracted by the Danes. “People just want security.”
The Taliban, who govern by fear and intimidation, are slowly losing their grip on Nahri Saraj as the British advance. But they are ruthless foes. They have executed six pro-British tribal elders in the valley since February, as the forces try to win trust among locals in the run-up to next month’s elections.
General Stanley McChrystal, the new commander of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force, has ordered his officers to limit the use of airstrikes after concerns that the rising number of civilian casualties is turning ordinary Afghans against foreign troops.
In areas under its control, the Taliban divert water irrigation channels away from pro-British villages, shut down schools and punish villagers spotted talking to British or Afghan troops.
“Only a few people will vote in the election,” said Faisal Haq, the district governor of Sangin who was forced to flee to neighbouring Kandahar in 2007 .
The propaganda war is becoming ever more vicious. Two weeks ago, the Taliban shot a seven-year-old Afghan girl in the head and dumped her body on the steps of her family’s mud compound. Then they blamed her death on the British.