U.S. Army Sgt. Katharina Hamper, medic, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment Headquarters and Headquarters Troop Personal Security Detachment checks an injured U.S. Soldier from 618th Engineer Company for possible head injuries on Oct. 13 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta)

International Security Assistance Force
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta

HIGHWAY 1, ZABUL PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN — What was supposed to be a routine battlefield circulation for Regimental Command Sergeant Major Army Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Morris, 2nd SCR, and the International Security Assistance Force’ s Senior Enlisted Leader Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin L. Hill, to visit a couple of patrol bases enroute to Forward Operating Base Lagman, turned into a rescue, treatment and medical evacuation in a matter of seconds on Oct. 13.

Two U.S. Army medics from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment Headquarters and Headquarters Troop personal security detachment treated and helped evacuate three 618th Engineer Company (Airborne) Soldiers injured by an improvised explosive device on Highway 1 during a mid morning route clearance patrol, Oct. 13.

“IED…IED…IED..,” Stryker Gunner Army Spc. Grant Cornell, 22, from Montgomery, Ala., shouted after a loud boom was heard close by.

A smell of burning oil drifted throughout the Stryker’ s rear compartment.

The roadside bomb exploded under the lead RG-31 mine resistant ambush protected vehicle, as it searched for IEDs on the desolate stretch of highway near Qalat.

The Stryker formation carrying Hill had just passed by the route clearance vehicles, which were going the other direction, only seconds before the estimated 800 lbs. bomb was remote detonated.

“We just rolled over it!” Cornell said. “ It was a huge one…..Dismount.”

Several different voices crackled over the PSD’ s radio headsets inside the Strykers

“Drop the gate,” came a command from inside Cornell’ s Stryker, where an Army medic was seated.

More than a dozen Soldiers from two Strykers poured out onto the highway into the blazing hot desert and hurried towards the twisted MRAP lying on its side.

The up armored nine-ton vehicle had been blown off the road, down a steep sandy embankment about 1000 meters away.

Afghan National Army Soldiers drove up moments later to be part of the protective U.S. cordon.

“[We wanted] to go outside and see what happened, see if they need help,” U.S. Army Sgt. Darlena Cherry, medic, 2ns SCR HHT PSD, said, “ see all the possible injuries, see what we could do.”

The MRAP was heavily damaged; its front rollers, the two front wheels and its engine block had been sheared off.

Oil had spewed everywhere, but the main cabin, which had been thrown 10 feet further away, was slightly crushed and dented but overall it was intact.

The capsule had done its job. It had protected the Soldiers inside from more severe injuries, fire and even possible death.

“I turned around and saw it flipping through the air,” U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Abdel Phipps, combat engineer, HHT, 2nd SCR and Brooklyn, N.Y. native, said later. “ I thought, ‘ those guys are dead.’”

As the Stryker Soldiers moved closer they could see U.S. Soldiers from 618th Eng. Co. silhouetted against the tan colored hull of the MRAP, as they crawled all over the U.S. Army vehicle to get their injured buddies out.

The 2nd SCR medics made their way to the scene as the first injured U.S. Soldier was being carried to safety by fellow 618th Eng. Co. troops.

He was set down on the road, shielded behind a vehicle for his protection, and then given immediate treatment by the 618th Eng. Co.’ s medic U.S. Army Spc. Cory Caya, from Arvada, Colo.

As two Kiowa gunships buzzed overhead as immediate security for those on the ground and to try to spot the insurgent who detonated the IED, Cherry and fellow 2nd SCR HHT PSD Medic U.S. Army Sgt. Katharina Hamper also went to work.

“He, Specialist Caya, said, ‘ Hey, I’ m a medic. My name is such and such,’ ” Cherry said.

“I said, ‘ I’ m a medic, my name is Sgt. Cherry,’ ” Cherry recalled later, “ and then it was all medical talk.”

“I helped put the litters out,” Cherry, 28, a Virginia Beach, Va., native, said.

Cherry and Hamper checked two of the three injured Soldiers for internal injuries, talked to them to keep them from going into shock and administered intravenous fluids as well.

“One had elbow pain, rib pain and a laceration on the lower leg,” Cherry said.“ One had a laceration on his chin and back pain. I dressed the wound on the leg [and] I helped their medic start the IV.”

“I wished I’ d had more litter straps,” Hamper said,“ but I improvised and used my belt.”

Hamper also started an IV on the third and final Soldier to be pulled out of the severely damaged MRAP.

The female medics said they both just followed their training.

“We all kind of worked together in unison,” said the 25-year-old Hamper, who is a six year Army veteran from Rock Creek, Ohio.

“We worked together well. We resorted back to our training,” she added.

The three injured Soldiers were medically evacuated by a single Black Hawk helicopter 33 minutes after the initial explosion.

“They’ re all stable, all getting sent to KAF [Kandahar Airfield Role 3 Hospital] for MRIs and CT scans.” Hamper said later. “ [The] one they’ re [most] worried about is the guy with the back injury; the TC [truck commander] took the brunt of it. We did our job to the best of our ability.”

“We both love our job,” Hamper said.“ We were happy we were there [to help], because it added two [extra] hands. The other medic did a great job, too. We all just worked as a team.”


  1. There are times I read of these events and the courage of our Warriors that are involved in them and find myself searching for words. I don’t know if we have words in English sufficient to define their actions under fire and my admiration for them. The best I can come up with doesn’t even come close to stating how much I respect them. As an outsider looking in I stand in silence completely in awe of their actions and ability to function in situations so far outside the realm of my day to day normal it’s impossible to get my mind in a place to even imagine what they experience and overcome. I can say it would be my great relief to call for help in a desperate situation and see just one of these Warriors show up on the scene. America we better take care of our Warriors now and when they come home from war. They are a gift of the Almighty to this nation and we best not take them for granted.

  2. We parents could not be more proud of our soldiers who are risking their lives and enduring separation of their families every day as they serve in Afghanistan and other war-zone countries. Our daily prayers are powerful and keep us hopeful for their safe return ASAP. In Jesus’Love, Mamma Betsy, Montgomery, AL.

Leave a Reply