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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Even the routine is not routine in Iraq

Part of this was posted in the last post that I did, but there is an email included from the unit commander that was written after the accident and before SSgt. Hansen's death. The article was sent to me from a friend who lives near the base and whose daughters and sons serve in the Nebraska Guard like Dan does. Please say prayers tonight for all of our men and women in uniform who make the daily sacrifice to secure our safety and our freedoms and for their loved ones who live without them on a daily basis for months and even years at a time.

Thank you for your support of our brave soldiers.
For those of you who have been following the progress on my Dan's injuries in Iraq (you can read them in the posts below this one) I have some very sad news:

I have been informed of the terribly sad news that Staff Sgt. Jeff Hansen, the soldier that was submerged for over 8 minutes in the canal and was in a coma, has died from his injuries. Dan very easily could have been in Staff Sgt. Hansen's place if he had not been the first one pulled out.

Please say a prayer tonight for Staff Sgt. Hansen's family. He leaves behind a wife and his father who were both able to be there with other family members when he died. He was 31, the same age as Dan and was Dan's Staff Sergeant and I know that Dan thought very highly of him. Dan is continuing to recover in Germany and they will know on Thursday if he is going back to Iraq right away or if he will require some further treatment as he is still having some difficulty breathing at times and still coughing up clots from his lungs. Walcott is currently at Walter Reed hospital and expected to make a full recovery. Thank you again for your continued prayers for Dan and Pfc. Corey Walcott and for the 167th B Troop platoon and Staff Sgt. Hansen's family as they deal with the loss of a beloved family member and friend.

Accident shows even routine deadly in Iraq

EDITOR’S NOTE: This e-mail is from Sgt. Jason von Hoff, a 1991 graduate of Kearney High School. He is a mounted section leader with Black Sheep, Bravo Troop, 3rd Platoon, 1st of the 167 Cavalry stationed in Iraq. He is the squad leader of the soldiers injured in a rollover in Iraq. Von Hoff is the son of Coni and Bill Nelson of Greeley, Colo., and formerly of Kearney and is the grandson of Bill and Audrey Nelson of Kearney.

It was supposed to be a routine patrol. Bloodknife 32,33,37 clear zones 7,1,2,3. ... run a mobile screen of route Linda ... be in by 1820 ... download gear and go eat chow.

It started off routine. ... weather was 120F, sky a bit hazy. Como checks were good. Briefed my section of the mission, route, did risk assessment, reminded them to do a rollover drill and grab extra water for the road.

Routine. Everything was pretty normal until a sandstorm blew in right on our rear. I notified Anaconda Main we were going to button down and wait out the storm. Twenty minutes later, we continued our patrol — routine.

My Scout truck was manned by my most experienced driver, vehicle commander and gunner. They were the best crew of the three vehicles in my section. Normally, my medic rides with me but I decided to send him with BK37, the lead truck today.

It was supposed to be a routine patrol. We were three-quarters through our patrol and needed to make our way out to route Linda to run our mobile screen before heading in. BK37 VC advised me, BK32, to hold my position while they scouted down a road we had never traveled on.

It was supposed to be a routine patrol.

‘ROLLOVER. THEY ARE IN THE CANAL’ my gunner yelled down to me. I radioed BK33 VC to run down with me to BK37’s position, threw my hand mic to my gunner and took off running.

Neither myself nor my BK33 VC are strong runners and carrying over 50 pounds of gear didn’t help. 150 meters down the road I saw 37’s driver pop out of the water and climb on top (the VC side) of the truck. ‘Where are my men?’

It was supposed to be a routine patrol.

I will spare you the details of the rescue, but know this: My soldiers stepped up. We pulled the remaining crew from their watery coffin. None were breathing. We administered rescue breathing and the gunner
(This is Dan he is talking about), who had been down approximately three minutes regained consciousness and began breathing on his own. My medic was down for five minutes and was semiconscious and had labored breathing, coughing up blood. My VC — I could not find my VC ... eight minutes before he was pulled out.

It was supposed to be a routine patrol. The driver who was the only soldier to escape is doing well physically but mentally is hurting. My gunner is doing well but will need to be watched for secondary infection in his lungs. My medic was stable throughout the night and has good BP. My VC regained breathing on his own and was stable last night. All three soldiers were flown to Germany for treatment.

It was supposed to be a routine patrol — nothing here is routine.

I’d appreciate prayers for my men, their families who will be flying to Germany to see them and for my fellow soldiers in the platoon and troop.

God Bless, peace out.

1 comment:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

A good point, Nic. Even routine can be dangerous in a hostile place.