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."