Friday, August 26, 2005

Beyond the Call of Journalism

Three Bullets Reach Flesh
Originally uploaded by Uncle Mikey.
This is one of the wildest, most vivid and fascinating accounts of combat that I've ever read, written yesterday in Iraq by independent journalist Michael Yon, whose blog is the best source of Iraq news available today. The picture above, which captures the moment immediately after Lieutenant Colonel Erik Kurilla was hit in the arm and both legs by enemy fire, was taken by Yon during the skirmish.

Unlike some people, Yon believes it's appropriate to get involved when fellow Americans are at risk:

I looked back at the two soldiers who were with me outside, and screamed what amounted to "Attack Attack Attack!" I stood up and was yelling at them. Actually, what I shouted was an unprintable string of curses, while Kurilla was also yelling at them to get in there, his M4 trained on the entrance. But the guys were not attacking.

I saw Prosser's M4 on the ground, Where did that come from?

I picked up Prosser's M4. It was empty. I saw only Prosser's bloody leg lying still, just inside the darkened doorway, because most of his body was hidden behind a stack of sheet metal.

"Give me some ammo! Give me a magazine!" I yelled, and the young 2nd lieutenant handed over a full 30-round magazine. I jacked it in, released the bolt and hit the forward assist. I had only one magazine, so checked that the selector was on semi-automatic.

I ran back to the corner of the shop and looked at LTC Kurilla who was bleeding, and saw CSM Prosser's extremely bloody leg inside the shop, the rest of him was still obscured from view. I was going to run into the shop and shoot every man with a gun. And I was scared to death.

What I didn't realize was at that same moment four soldiers from Alpha Company 2nd Platoon were arriving on scene, just in time to see me about to go into the store. SSG Gregory Konkol, SGT Jim Lewis, and specialists Nicholas Devereaux and Christopher Muse where right there, behind me, but I didn't see them.

Reaching around the corner, I fired three shots into the shop. The third bullet pierced a propane canister, which jumped up in the air and began spinning violently. It came straight at my head but somehow missed, flying out of the shop as a high-pressure jet of propane hit me in the face. The goggles saved my eyes. I gulped in deeply.

In the tiniest fraction of a second, somehow my mind actually registered Propane . . . FIREBALL! as it bounced on the ground where it spun furiously, creating an explosive cloud of gas and dust, just waiting for someone to fire a weapon.

I scrambled back, got up and ran a few yards, afraid that Kurilla was going to burn up if there was a fire. The soldiers from Alpha Company were heading toward him when LTC Kurilla yelled out that he was okay, but that CSM Prosser was still in the shop. The Alpha Company soldiers ran through the propane and dust cloud and swarmed the shop.

When the bullet hit that canister, Prosser—who I thought might be dead because of all the blood on his leg—was actually fighting hand-to-hand on the ground. Wrapped in a ground fight, Prosser could not pull out his service pistol strapped on his right leg, or get to his knife on his left, because the terrorist—who turned out to be a serious terrorist—had grabbed Prosser's helmet and pulled it over his eyes and twisted it.

Read the whole thing, and read Michael Yon's blog regularly. It's the least you can do.

From American Digest.

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