I keep looking at the pictures I took of Lt. Colonel Tim Karcher a few months ago in Sadr City, Iraq. Even though we are walking through alleyways of raw sewage and rotting vegetables, Karcher has a soft smile on his face in every shot. In the interview we did he is optimistic, but realistic about Iraq’s future. No spin.
Now this big bear of a man is lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life, both his legs blown off above the knees. It breaks my heart, and judging from the tons of emails I have received from soldiers, reporters and others who knew him, many feel the same. LTC Karcher was on his 3rd deployment to Iraq. He felt a profound responsibility to his soldiers, and two years ago despite a gunshot wound to his shoulder that ripped out much of his deltoid muscle, he fought hard to get back to the point where he could return to his soldiers. He said he felt guilty if they were in the fight and he was not. He also profoundly loves his family -- his wife and daughters aged 14, 12 and 9.
Martha later spoke with LTC Karcher's wife Alesia and blogged about it here.
LTC Tim Karcher is still in intensive care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, but his vital signs remain stable. I have learned more about the events that surrounded his injury, made more tragic by the death of a sergeant who had been part of Karcher’s rescue.
LTC Karcher was riding in an MRAP just before noon on Sunday, June 28th. The MRAP is considered the Army’s heaviest and safest personnel carrier. But the multiple and powerful EFPs (explosively formed penetrator), those Iranian made shaped charge that penetrate metal, struck the door near where Karcher was seated. His legs were gone.
Normally a medevac helicopter would be called, but the soldiers were socked in by a dust storm, and nothing was flying. Karcher would have to be driven to Baghdad’s combat support hospital, or CSH as it is known. Tourniquets were quickly applied in the field, but when he arrived at the CSH Karcher was in shock and losing blood. Doctors at the CSH were finally able to stabilize him Monday morning when he was transferred to Balad air base for further medical care and then transferd to Landstuhl. When Karcher was loaded onto the plane for Landstuhl, those with him say he looked “strong and stable.”
Throughout his time in the CSH, Karacher was surrounded by men from his unit, including his Command Sergeant Major Richard Franklin. Tragically, when these soldiers headed back to their sector after heroically delivering their severely wounded battalion commander to the hospital, their patrol was struck by a huge EFP and small arms fire. 28-year old Sergeant Timothy David, of Gladwin, Michigan, was struck and gravely wounded. His men fought to save him, but he died en route to Balad air base. A terrible, terrible day for the soldiers of 2-5 Cavalry Division.
I have also learned that in addition to getting shot in the shoulder two years ago, LTC Karcher was struck by a roadside bomb in December of 2006 in Baqubah while delivering blankets, stuffed animals and fuel to Iraqis as part of a military training team.
Please pray for LTC Karcher, the family of SGT Timothy David, and all the men and women of 2-5 Cav.
Thanks to Ms. Raddatz for covering their stories.
Update 3 July: LTC Karcher is on the way to the US. All the best for a safe flight and speedy recovery.
Update from Martha Raddatz 6 July: Lt. Colonel Karcher's Homecoming
Update from Rich Lowry of OpFor 15 July: Another Tim Karcher Update