Both of them were blown from their seats by the blast, which they described as, “very powerful, lots of noise and heat.” The two Iraqi soldiers were both dazed. One of them could only hear a loud ringing sound in his ears. The other couldn’t believe his eyes: Every where he looked people were gasping for air or bleeding profusely. Before the two Iraqis lay a helpless American soldier, who staggered across the smoke-filled mess hall at first only to fall on the ground. They couldn’t understand a word coming out of the American’s mouth. They only saw the blood spewing from his leg.
These two men, both in their 20s, saw carnage caused by the very people they took an oath to defend Iraq against. These two men were proud Iraqis who were trained by U.S. Army Special Forces. These two men had seen enough people die at the hands of terrorists, and on December 21, 2004, they would do everything in their power to save every person they could.
The human body has several vital points. A sharp piece of metal to the jugular and a person is gone within seconds. A shot to the temple, a person will never even know what hit him. A slug to the heart or spleen and the person’s collection of memories will flash before his or her eyes in an instant. A hit to the femoral artery leaves a person minutes, maybe hours, but their final moments will be agonizing.
The suicide bomb sprayed bb-like fragments throughout the Marez dining facility. One piece of shrapnel sliced through the femoral artery of a U.S. soldier and his only chance for survival was in the hands of these two Iraqis.
Recalling the medical classes they’d received from the special forces, the Iraqis reacted calmly, fastening a belt above the wound, creating a tourniquet, which stopped the gushing stream of red. They moved the soldier to a MEDVAC vehicle via two-man litter carry. After they hoisted the soldier in the truck, the two Iraqis – one an officer, the other an NCO – ran back to the facility and began treating the other wounded without regard for their safety.
When the dust settled and the mess tent had been evacuated, everybody who could talk was questioned about their health. When the medics came to the two Iraqis, the ING soldiers only wanted to know how everybody else was. When asked why did they do it, they simply stated, “this was our duty; we are a team, and we take care of each other.” Even the Americans.
This country needs more people like these two Iraqi soldiers. If more shared their passion and determination, the terrorist’s fear tactics of beheadings, public killings and kidnappings would not work. If more believed in their vision of Iraq, there would be no fighting; there would only be encouragement for their fellow man and peace. If more people understood their sacrifices and followed their lead, this country would not be as dependent upon others. But they can’t single handily change their country, so they decisively lead by example without trepidation.
Rather than running, they stood strong and saved a man’s life. Because of them, somebody’s son is still breathing. Right now, the U.S. Army is trying to give these two Iraqis prestigious awards. But all the Iraqis want to do is check on the soldier they saved. “I just want to make sure he is OK.”
By now, the American, who is still in the hospital recovering, knows the story of the two Iraqis. And I’m sure he looks forward to the day he can look his Iraqi brother-at-arms in the eye and say, "Thanks for saving my life."