What Happened That Day on Patrol

  • Share
  • Read Later

(2 of 2)

Grimes, 26, a medic who had been traveling in the next humvee, jumped out and began applying a tourniquet to Michael's arm, as close to the wrist as she could, to stop the bleeding. Later, a colonel would explain to Michael that the shrapnel range of an unimpeded grenade is about 15 feet in all directions. In this case, the combination of Michael's hand and the bench below it contained enough of the blast to save the life of everyone in the back of the truck. You can read the full details of the incident in "Portrait of a Platoon," which begins on page 58.

Michael and Jim were flown by helicopter to Baghdad's 28th Combat Support Hospital, where correspondents Brian Bennett, Michael Ware and Phil Zabriskie, photo-operations manager Bill Kalis and photographer Yuri Kozyrev stayed with them and helped organize their departure for a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. At the same time, Washington bureau chief Michael Duffy and senior correspondent Mark Thompson set aside the profile of Rumsfeld they were co-writing to press the Pentagon for assistance and information on transferring Jim and Michael out of Iraq. By Friday, enough had been established for Michele Stephenson, director of photography, and Howard Chua-Eoan, news director, to fly to Germany to meet our two wounded colleagues.

Michael is now at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, in Washington. He is receiving excellent care there, supervised by Dr. Andrew Friedman. Jim is back home in New York City, seeing doctors almost daily. I spoke with Michael twice last week and had lunch with Jim last Friday, and their spirits are remarkably good. The two soldiers are recovering as well.

Ever since the incident, soldiers have been coming up to Michael to thank him for saving the lives of their colleagues. "All I did was follow my instincts," he says. The day before he left Germany, his nurse, Captain Nina McCoy from San Antonio, Texas, held his arm and walked him up and down the hallway for exercise. Michael, 57, was trying to explain to her--and perhaps to himself--that it was good that he was at his age when this happened, saying he couldn't imagine what it was like for younger people who had yet to figure out what life was about. McCoy then told the story of another nurse who was walking a young man who had lost both his forearms. The soldier turned to the nurse and said, "I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm supposed to be married when I get home. How am I going to wear the ring?" The nurse clutched him tight and said, "You can wear it on a chain around your neck and it will lie even closer to your heart." Michael nodded to McCoy and said, "That was the right thing to say."

James Kelly, Managing Editor

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next Page