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Saturday, June 10, 2006

Project Hero

QandO has the next Silver Star recipient tribute up on their site.

Our hero this week is SPC Gerrit Kobes, Silver Star

“It was a big, long convoy,” explained Kobes. “My truck was right in the middle of it.”

As the convoy moved towards Fallujah one of the lead vehicles carrying Iraqi National Guardsmen was slammed in to by a rocket propelled grenade. The disabled truck halted the convoy making what insurgents hoped would be easy prey.

From nearby buildings and other concealed areas, insurgents opened up on the column of immobilized vehicles with two heavy machineguns, RPG’s and a hail of small arms fire.

To make the situation even more chaotic, Kobes’ vehicle couldn’t move forward to the destroyed truck with the injured soldiers.

“When we got the call that a vehicle had been hit, so we tried to drive around the ING, but they were already dismounting their trucks,” Kobes said. “They were shooting in all directions and taking cover on the side of the road in a ditch. We couldn’t move around them.”

Unable to drive to the wounded, he grabbed his aid-bag and along with his platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. John Todd, ran to their position nearly 500 meters ahead through a storm of enemy fire.

“I wasn’t really thinking about what was going on around me,” Kobes said. “I was just focusing on what I had to get done.”

When he and Todd reached the wounded they found some United States Marines were trying to secure the site. After a rapid assessment of the wounded Iraqi Soldiers, Kobes jumped into action.

“There were four wounded ING soldiers there,” Kobes said. “One was pretty bad off with arterial bleeding on his right arm from shrapnel wounds.”

As Soldiers from Bravo Company’s 4th platoon laid down suppressive fire to repel the attackers Kobes quickly applied a tourniquet to the wound and stopped the bleeding. He then began to assess the others wounds. One Iraqi Soldier had a head injury and a hole through his hand. Another’s leg was bleeding and the fourth had shrapnel wounds on his face.

“I treated the wounds,” he explained. “I put pressure dressings on the head injury and bandaged the guys arm – it was all happening pretty quick.”

The Soldier with the tourniquet appeared to be in a lot of pain so Kobes called for Spc. Haytham Ibrahim, an infantryman with Bravo Company that speaks Arabic. He had Ibrahim explain to the wounded Iraqi what he was doing and to tell him everything was going to be alright. He also had Ibrahim tell him that Kobes was going to give him morphine to ease the pain.

By this time the convoy was starting to move, Kobes once again exposed himself to fire as he loaded the wounded on to the Iraqi vehicles so they could be evacuated to the nearest aid station.

While on the ground there Kobes assessed a fifth Iraqi Soldier, the one who took the brunt of the first RPG round during the attack that disabled the truck.

“They had tried to call in a MEDEVAC for him,” Kobes aid, “but once I saw his injuries I told them to call it off – It was too late.”

Kobes and Todd then returned to their vehicle and continued on to Fallujah.



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