12 December 2008

"You can take my leg, but you can't take my heart and you can't take my soul. I'm a Green Beret."

Some of you may have seen this story on TV last night. Here's more about the ten Soldiers of Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd SF Group who will be awarded the Silver Star today for their actions in the Shok valley of Nuristan province, Afghanistan back in April.

As [Master Sgt. Scott] Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."

Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on." He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.

Now that's tough. But it was just the beginning.

Finally, after hours of fighting, the troops made their way down to the streambed, with those who could still walk carrying the wounded. A medical evacuation helicopter flew in, but the rotors were immediately hit by bullets, so the pilot hovered just long enough to allow the in-flight medic to jump off, then flew away.

A second helicopter came in but had to land in the middle of the icy, fast-moving stream. "It took two to three guys to carry each casualty through the river," Ford said. "It was a mad dash to the medevac." As they sat on the helicopter, it sustained several rounds of fire, and the pilot was grazed by a bullet.

By the time the battle ended, the Green Berets and the commandos had suffered 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents were dead, according to an official Army account of the battle. The Special Forces soldiers had nearly run out of ammunition, with each having one to two magazines left, Ford said.

Read the rest.

Ironically, this morning Mrs. Greyhawk made several of us aware of another kind of story about wounded soldiers remaining on active duty. After you've seen it, come back and watch this video again to cleanse your palate.

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