Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Tomahawk Troops Embrace Pocket-Size Memories
Defend America News ^ | Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma

Posted on 04/18/2007 5:42:19 PM PDT by SandRat

line space
Tomahawk Troops Embrace Pocket-Size Memories
Soldiers keep pieces of metal which wounded them during their deployment to Iraq.
line space
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma
1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division, Baghdad

BAGHDAD, April 17, 2007 — One undeniable commonality in every battle fought is the memories of war that burn into the minds of the soldiers who fight in it and the small pieces that remind them to never forget.

Three infantrymen with Company C, 1st "Tomahawk" Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, experienced three different attacks, on three separate occasions and each came away with different stories to tell and some proof that fit into the palm of their hand.

"There was concrete blowing up everywhere and then I felt something hit me in the leg, right in the shin."
U.S. Army Spc. Nicholas Myers

The Shot
After clearing a corner house on a road named for its high frequency of rocket-propelled grenade attacks, RPG Alley East, Oct. 12, Spc. Nicholas Myers was standing outside pulling security when a car blazed by and sprayed gunfire in his direction.

Simultaneously, about half a mile away, people shot from rooftops across the highway.

"When the gun shots started going off I was looking around and asking myself 'Where are these guys?'" Myers recalled, wanting to return fire. As his eyes continued to scan, he saw a row of bullets, one by one, climb up the wall behind him.

"There was concrete blowing up everywhere and then I felt something hit me in the leg, right in the shin," said the native of Licking, Mo. "I thought it was a chunk of concrete that blew out of the wall and nicked me in the leg."

Soldiers display pieces they have kept from their attacks during their deployment April13. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma

Instinctively, he ran back into the house with the rest of his squad and got on the roof where they could seek out where the shots were coming from, but the assailants were gone.

The throbbing became more intense as he looked down at his blood-soaked pant leg. Still unaware he had been shot, his squad got back into their Stryker vehicle and a tightly-wrapped field dressing was applied to his wound. When he finally got back onto the base, he walked to the aid station where they X-rayed him and discovered, lodged in the back of his leg, a bullet. He ended up keeping the bullet the medical staff extracted from his leg. Soon after, he went straight to a phone and called his wife and mom to tell them what had happened.

Myers said that his mom stayed emotional during the entire conversation and although his now-expecting wife, Felecia, started off very emotional, ended the phone call with a "Well, I guess that's pretty cool" attitude.

An Explosive Christmas
Later that year, operations for Pfc. Joshua Ruth continued as usual. It was Christmas day, and Ruth was out on a clearing mission in New Baghdad and the path they were wheeling through was Route Predator.

"We've been taking contact and hostilities all day," said the native of Elizabethtown, Ky.

That night they were going to have three to four hours to eat a Christmas dinner and relax before heading back out to patrol and secure their area of operation. This battalion effort had the soldiers on rotations, but another platoon was outside the wire and hit an improvised explosive device. The attack flattened a couple of tires, forcing Ruth's group to go out earlier than expected.

So they answered the call to duty and were out of the wire once again. They were driving along and then it happened.

"I remember the sound of the (explosively formed projectile) and I remember thinking that it must be somebody else," Ruth said. "The next thing I remember is me lying on the floor."

The blast had knocked him down into the vehicle. It exploded about a meter and a half away from him. It sent shrapnel across his face, perforating both eardrums and giving him a concussion.

"For a little bit, we were just disoriented; there was smoke everywhere; the vehicle was totally destroyed," Ruth said.

(Left to right) Infantrymen with 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Pfc. Joshua Ruth, Spc. Nicholas Myers, and Pfc. Brandon Kroger have all kept pieces of metal which wounded them during their deployment to Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma

As the squad dismounted and pulled security, Ruth started to feel lightheaded so they took him over to the physician who cleaned and patched up the lacerations on his face.

The next morning, they went back out to the site to secure other items. "I was looking at the vehicle and where I was when it happened and I found it stuck up inside of one of the hubs and I pried it out," Ruth said.

The battalion was hit by its first EFP and now Ruth has a lasting reminder that fits in the palm of his hand, a piece of that ten-slug EFP that hit them that day.

"Because we spent the nights sleeping on the ground at other (forward operating bases), it wasn't until a couple days later that we got back and I was able to call my family," Ruth said. "On the phone, my mom started crying, but my dad said that they were just so happy to hear my voice."

Pieces of That Day
It was early morning, Jan. 24, and the first objective was a mosque.

While Pfc. Brandon Kroger and his squad secured the area, an Iraqi army element was trying to get into the mosque to search it.

"But they couldn't find a way in, so we got ready to help," said Kroger.

"We all dismounted and there we were at the nose of the vehicle. Me, (Spc. Brice Sandefur) and Ruth, were sitting there pulling security waiting for the order to move to go blow this door up."

Then he heard a noise.

"It sounded like a tin can that hit the ground," said Kroger, a native of Cincinnati. "So I turn, thinking that there's someone there about to shoot me. (I) raise my weapon and, boom!

"Five seconds went by and I didn't even realize I had been hit," Kroger remembered. "Suddenly, my left hand went completely numb and my calf felt like someone took a sledge hammer to it."

Everyone got back into the vehicle and Kroger pulled out his first aid pouch, assessed his wounds, and wrapped them up the best he could.

It was a grenade that exploded about 25 feet away from him. X-rays showed that there were a total of eight known pieces of shrapnel in his body.

His mother didn't take the news so well and once word got around about the grenade attack he survived, e-mails from family members filled his in-box.

A couple of weeks went by and Kroger noticed the color of one of the welts had changed to black. There he was sitting on his bed when he pulled a piece of black metal out of his inner thigh.

He said that although some pieces are slowly seeping out of his skin, there is a piece that is in so deep in his left thigh, a quarter of an inch from his femur, that he is probably not going to get it removed.

"So I'll probably be taking it to my grave," Kroger said. But for now, he has a tiny reminder of that day. "Eventually I will have kids and my kids will have kids," the 24-year-old said. "So I'll be this 85-year-old talking about how he was in Iraq and got hit by a grenade and I'll have a piece of shrapnel to prove it."

Although these 'Tomahawk' soldiers all came back to base with a piece of their Iraq War and a unique story to tell, their attacks left them with something else. All of them came out of this with a desire to get back out and join their fellow comrades in the fight.

"You feel like you're that extra element in your squad, in your platoon, that might make that difference," said Kroger. "Having that extra set of hands and feet out there is good."

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: embrace; frwn; iraq; memories; pocket; tomahawks

1 posted on 04/18/2007 5:42:22 PM PDT by SandRat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: 91B; HiJinx; Spiff; MJY1288; xzins; Calpernia; clintonh8r; TEXOKIE; windchime; Grampa Dave; ...

WAR News at Home and Abroad You'll Hear Nowhere Else!

All the News the MSM refuses to use!

Or if they do report it, without the anti-War Agenda Spin!

2 posted on 04/18/2007 5:43:09 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SandRat


Thanks for all the good War News, SandRat. You’ve been busy tonight!

3 posted on 04/18/2007 7:42:28 PM PDT by StarCMC (Honor military recruiters in all 50 states ~ May 19, 2007 ~
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: StarCMC

Could put up stuff last night as I was having PC problems so I had to make up for it tonight after spending from 4pm to 1030 pm last night fixing things.

4 posted on 04/18/2007 7:49:44 PM PDT by SandRat (Duty, Honor, Country. What else needs to be said?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson