Susanville soldier injured by explosive in Sadar City
Fighting between coalition forces in Iraq had been escalating for several days before March 30. On Tuesday, March 25, an Iraqi Army force began fighting several Shiite militias in Basra in Southern Iraq. The fighting in Basra immediately broadened to Sadar-City on the northeast outskirts of Baghdad, home to the Mahdi Army and other insurgents loyal to militant Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadar.
While Sadar had called for a unilateral cease-fire in August 2007, when the fighting in Basra began, the fragile peace shattered. Even the supposedly secure Green Zone came under almost daily mortar and rocket attack.
Moore and his Striker — a vehicle like a tank on wheels — got the call to support another platoon to prevent insurgents from gaining access to certain areas in Sadar-City.
Moore, his gunner and the 11 soldiers the Striker carried, had been working in agricultural areas. Now they were moving into one of the biggest firefights of the war — a hard-fought, head-on, street-to-street, house-to-house and door-to-door confrontation in a densely populated urban area full of hostile insurgents.
“We weren’t familiar with the area,” Moore said. “When the rear vehicle in our group was hit with an IED, our immediate response was to get out of the area.”
As the soldiers and the vehicles tried to pull back, Moore turned his Striker down a road that hadn’t been cleared yet. He was told to stop and turn around. As he turned the Striker around, the vehicle tripped a motion sensor that launched the EFP.
Moore said the EFP is simply a tube packed with C4 explosive with a cooper plate on the end. When the EFP fires, the copper plate becomes a projectile that forms a cone and pierces armor. When the EFP penetrates the armor, it creates a lot of shrapnel intended to inflict as many injuries as possible. Moore said the weapon is becoming more and more common in Iraq.
Fortunately, the shrapnel missed Moore, his gunner and the 11 infantrymen riding in the back of the Striker.
Unfortunately, the shrapnel and the explosion from the EFP blasted a hole in the right-hand side of the Striker, blew open a service hatch and went into the engine, disabling the vehicle. Moore suffered second-degree burns to his face and hands from the blast fire and the burning oil that exploded from the engine into the cab of the vehicle.
“The gunner also suffered a concussion and a bruised wrist,” Moore said, “but everyone else was okay.”
Moore said he instantly knew he’d been injured. Somehow he managed to get out of the burning Striker, and then someone pulled him back into another vehicle that wasn’t on fire.
“The rest of the platoon came to get us,” Moore said. “We were engaged in a firefight for about 20 minutes.”
Moore said he did manage to give the personal ammunition every American soldier in Iraq carries with him to a rifleman during the fight. He said he was amazed by the intensity of the fighting raging all around him.
“It was really scary,” Moore said. “My hands were hurt, so I couldn’t fight. I kept hearing and feeling the concussions and blasts from all the RPGs, IEDs and AK47s. I thought I was going to die, and I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Once the Americans finally were able to extract themselves, Moore was treated by battlefield paramedics, loaded on a Blackhawk helicopter and flown to Belan, Iraq.
“They cleaned me up, and did what they could,” Moore said.
That night he arrived in Germany, and the next day he was flown to the burn center in Texas.
Two days later, his wife Kassie arrived and stayed for about three weeks before she returned to Susanville.
“I had a lot of trouble,” Moore said. “My mouth was really burned. I could barely open my mouth. Laughter is the best cure, and we tried our best to have a good time.”
Now, about six weeks after being injured, Moore said his face looks like he’s just getting over a sunburn. He said his hands got the worst of it, but the doctors expect he eventually will recover full use of his hands.
Moore said he’s stayed in touch with his gunner, who still has trouble with his balance due to his head injury. After a few weeks in Germany, the gunner was sent back to light duty in Iraq.
The military trained Moore and his fellow soldiers to fight in all kinds of environments — open agricultural areas, urban areas and rural areas, he said — so the men on his Striker where ready for whatever came their way.
“Training wasn’t an issue,” Moore said. “It was more of a mindset thing. Fighting in the city was definitely an eye opener. In the four months before we got there, the only rounds we’d fired were warning shots. That was the extent of our combat experience.
“When we were called down to the city, it was a complete 180. We were somewhere we’d never been before. Squads were up in the buildings two days before it happened. We were there because this group in Sadar-City was firing a lot of mortar rounds into the Green Zone and exerting a greater presence in Sadar-City. They were attacking civilians and other coalition forces.”
Moore said the support he’s received from family and friends back home in Susanville and in Texas has helped immensely.
“I didn’t see how many people and organizations help the soldiers until I got hurt,” Moore said. “Getting support from my family and friends and receiving all the get well cards has played a big role in my healing process. I’ve definitely been taken care of.”
The wounded soldier also said the American forces are making a big difference in Iraq. He said all the interpreters he worked with have told him things are much better in Iraq since the Americans arrived in their country.
Moore said he hopes to be back in Susanville no later than May 14. He also expects to have a two-week leave around the time his wife is due to deliver their first child.
He said he doesn’t know where he will serve the rest of his enlistment.
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