Soldier Impaled By Live RPG Survived
Soldiers Attacked in Afghanistan with RPG, Others Risked Their Lives to Save a Comrade.
Spc. Channing Moss is lucky to be alive, after a fierce ambush and bloody firefight his buddies, a helicopter crew and a medical team would risk their own lives to save his.
On March the 16th, 2007 Alpha Company platoon had set out from Forward Operating Base Tillman around 8 a.m. for a meeting with tribal leaders in the village of Srah Kandah in Paktika province near the Pakistan border. Moss, then a private first class, was manning a Mark 19 machine gun in the turret of his up-armored Humvee when his unit, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division was attacked by Afghan Forces.
Spc. Channing Moss With Wife And Baby
The attack was over in seconds and Moss was left on the verge of death, impaled through the abdomen with a rocket-propelled grenade, and an aluminum rod with one tail fin protruded from the left side of his torso. Moss recalls,
“All of a sudden, I hear this explosion. Then I hear this ‘ping, ping, ping’ hitting the humvee”
Attackers unleashed “a large volume of RPG fire and small-arms fire,” said the platoon leader, Capt. Billy Mariani, who was a first lieutenant then. Whilst Mariani’s machine gunner laid suppressing fire on the ridgeline, his mortar section shelled the fighters’ positions. A hail of bullets and RPGs ripped toward them from behind hills and crags to the right. All the vehicles took rounds; the Afghan pickup was destroyed.
Moss was turning his machine gun turret to return fire when the first of three RPG rounds to strike his vehicle exploded on the truck commander’s door.
The second and third rounds struck the front of the vehicle; one smashed through the windshield, slicing the truck commander across the face before burrowing into Moss as he sat in the gunner’s sling.
Truck Commander, Staff Sgt. Eric Wynn said, “I turned to the driver and yelled at him to get out of the kill zone, that’s when we got hit again.”
The projectile bored into Moss’s left hip at a downward angle, tearing through his lower abdomen, the tip of the device stopped just short of breaking through the skin on Moss’s upper right thigh
Wynn, with the tip of his nose sheared off and his torn upper lip hanging loosely, radioed his lieutenant and told him through a bloody gurgle of words that Moss had a tail fin sticking out of his body.
Platoon medic Sgt. Jared Angell, Moss’ best friend, pulled his buddy behind the passenger seat and began using every piece of gauze and bandage he had to stabilize the RPG and help control Moss’ bleeding. Angell noted that it had been Moss’s belt that kept the RPG from going all the way through his body. Angell said,
“I tried to keep him calm and needed to stabilize him so [the RPG round] wouldn’t move any further. He was very combative; you can imagine how uncomfortable he was. I told him, ‘If you fight with me, I’ll fight with you’, I knew that with the things I did, I was going to buy him enough time to get to surgery.”
As the medical team lifted off in its Black Hawk helicopter from Forward Operating Base Salerno for the 10-minute flight to the battle scene, all they knew was that there were urgent casualties and that the area was hot.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jorge Correa, 33, then a chief warrant officer 2, landed the Black Hawk on a roadway a few meters away from a chugging plume of purple smoke that marked the landing zone. On touchdown, flight medic Sgt. John Collier, jumped out and sped toward the wounded to assess the situation.
“When Collier came back to the aircraft, he told me immediately about the RPG,” said Correa, who delivered the news of Moss’s condition to his crew and asked if they were comfortable with the mission.
For medics and a helicopter crew, there was only one choice. “They said, ‘yeah, we gotta get this guy to the hospital.’ At the moment, everyone was focused on the new mission,” Correa said. “I know we risked our lives to save Pfc. Moss, but there was no hesitation.”
“I didn’t really think about it until a couple of days later,” he said. “It was like, wow, we had live ordnance on the helicopter.”
Xray Of RPG Impaled In The Body Of Spc. Channing Moss
Moss was nearly dead as the Black Hawk landed at the battalion aid station at Orgun-E, about 20 miles from the site of the ambush. Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon recalled that it wasn’t apparent just how delicate the situation was until they began cutting away Moss’s combat uniform and unraveling all the gauze bandages.
Protocol, as far as Oh knew, dictated that someone in Moss’s condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and listed as “expectant,” which means he would be expected to die because nothing could be done for him.
Despite military protocol, Oh warned the volunteers one last time that the surgery could cost everyone their lives and then began operating to extract the ordnance from Moss’s booby-trapped body. One wrong move risked the lives of the patient, his own and those of the other members of the medical team.
Still conscious, Moss assumed the worst.
“I didn’t know they had put anesthesia in my IV. I was blacking out and I thought I was dying. I thought they were just going to leave me,”
The team decided the device would have to be removed by pulling it through in the direction it had traveled. Moss would be opened up so the extent of damage to his abdomen and the path of the projectile could be assessed.
RPG After Being Removed From Spc. Channing Moss
The damage was extensive. Moss’s intestines had been shredded, his pelvic bone crushed and he had lost a lot of blood. However, no major organs had been disturbed.
EOD technician Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Brown began sawing off the tail fin, which protruded just above Moss’s left hip.
Brown said he needed to remain calm and steady, but there were moments when the situation was frightening, when everyone in the room was wide-eyed, staring at each other.
Using his scalpel for the most delicate incision of his life, Oh took the next step and cut the skin on Moss’s right thigh where the tip of the device came to rest. Then, as if delivering a ticking baby time bomb, Brown gently and steadily eased the blood-covered metal tube from Moss’s body.
Inside, breathing sighs of relief, the medical team patched up what remained of Moss’s lower abdomen so he could be airlifted.
That day personal safety definitely took a back seat to saving to Moss, the bravery, quick thinking and nerves of steal of those involved enabled him to attend the birth of his second daughter, Ariana, just three months later. Moss commended the soldiers, who saved his life that day,
“I don’t think there has been a day in the last year and a half that I haven’t thought about them, that I haven’t prayed for them. They saved my life,”
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