I have written about this “Alive Day” several times over the years not this blog. This is a significant day to me and to my buddy Scooter. Scooter and I are bonded by this day and he never forgets me, nor do I him on this day. Today was very special as this morning he emailed me his Sworn Statement from that day. I must say it was pretty cool reading it again as it took me right back to that day. Not that I forgot it, but his sworn statement filled in small details that I had forgotten or didn’t even realize.
So in recognition of this anniversary, eight years later I am providing a copy of this sworn statement from my “Partner in Crime”, Scooter. I have modified the names to protect identities of all those mentioned in this statement, to include trimming mine down to just “1SG S.” for ease of reading.
8 September 2006
On or about 8 September 2006, while assigned as the Field Artillery Advisor in 4-2-203 Corps (ANA), MAJ B. (TC), CPT L. (passenger), 1SG S. (driver), and myself (M240B gunner) were returning from Operation PIR KOWTI in vic Orgun-E, Paktika Province, Afghanistan in a convoy of approximately 16 U.S. and ANA vehicles.
Our vehicle was in the middle of the convoy. After approximately an hour into the drive, in the rocky hills, we were going around a curve. 1SG S. accelerated around the curve as a TTP for deterring IEDs. Once we cleared the curve, there was a very loud explosion about 15-20 meters behind our truck that sent smoke, dust, and shrapnel beyond our truck. I immediately ducked into the gunner’s hatch upon hearing the sound and 1SG S. was yelling to see if I was alright.
I was not injured and told him I was OK. I stood up again and looked back, only to see the continuation of the smoke and dust cloud. There was a sound of automatic gun fire and we thought there might be an ambush, so I went “red” on the M204B and was scanning, looking for the trigger man. After driving for another 50-75 meters and not seeing the vehicle behind us, 1SG S. turned the vehicle around. We drove back to the IED site and stopped short by approximately 25 meters. There was still a slight dust in the air and I saw a body in the road and a destroyed ANA Ford Ranger (LTV) on the side of the road, on the other side of a large rock.
The LTV was upside down, pointing the opposite direction, and the vehicle itself was twisted. The occupants were the ANA Bde CSM, the Operations SGM, and two others. The convoy behind us had stopped and (according to a radio transmission) saw the trigger man, attempted to engage with their M2, and had several US Soldiers and ANA Soldiers attempting to chase down the man. The man had escaped to an awaiting truck on another “road” and departed at a high rate of speed north. Meanwhile, 1SG S. got out of the vehicle to assess the situation and determined that there were additional personnel trapped in the vehicle.
I continued to man the M240B for security and the lead US element had arrived at our location with COL A., MAJ M., CSM S., and the ANA Brigade Commander. MAJ M. and COL A. immediately started to perform Combat Lifesaving skills on the victims. 1SG S. was trying to gain radio contact was having trouble due to the ECM and our location in the rolling hills. 1SG S. managed to gain contact with an MBITR radio with a portable satellite antenna to send a SPOT report to our headquarters in Sharana (ETT) and to the Catamount (10MNT) headquarters in Orgun-E. After MAJ B. and COL A. identified seriousness of the casualties, 1SG S. sent a 9-Line MEDAVAC request. CPT L. was asked by 1SG S. to assist the ANA to provide 360 security.
While 1SG S. was getting ready for the MEDAVAC, I monitored the radios and provided some clarification on the request. COL A. and MAJ M. continued providing medical attention with the ANA medics on the casualties, while MAJ B. and 1SG S. were preparing for the MEDAVAC and attempting to gain control of the overall situation. Within 20 minutes, a Blackhawk MEDAVAC arrived with an Apache escort. I contacted the MEDAVAC and confirmed the smoke color of the HLZ. I also contacted the Apache to describe the getaway vehicle of the trigger man. After the casualties were evacuated (with two Blackhawks), it was determined that there might be a secondary device located in the road and EOD from FOB Sharana was contacted. The ETTs and ANA started to clean up the papers blown by the helicopter and taking pictures of the scene. After some time, the EOD arrived, they conducted their own assessment of the area and they placed multiple charges in the road to detonate any secondary devices. After determining the area was clear, a refuse truck evacuated the destroyed LTV. Once the vehicle was removed and the area was policed, the convoy continued with the mission to return to Sharana.
It was later determined, by the ECM contractor that the trigger man was attempting to make contact with our U.S. vehicle; however, our ECM delayed the explosion and detonated on the LTV (with the Bde CSM) that was tailgating our truck right outside of our “bubble”.