Injured are Pfc. Aaron J. Cady and Pfc. Christopher G. Taffoya. Pvt. Jeramia L. Minor was also injured in the attack but was treated and released back to his unit in Kirkuk. Cady and Taffoya were both flown to Germany to receive further medical treatment.
It is unclear if the incident was a direct attack or the result of a child playing with a grenade. The incident is still under investigation
“When we got there they were already loaded up in the back of a cargo HMMWV, my platoon medic, Pfc. Daniel Kucerak, had already had them bandaged up, had given them I.V.s and had given one some morphine for the pain,” said Sgt. Michael Sparks, medic assigned to Battle Company, 1 Battalion, 508th Infantry.
“One of them, Taffoya, wasn’t complaining about the pain at all,” Sparks said. “I think the adrenaline was still pumping pretty good for him. Cady was by far the worst, he had shrapnel in both his legs and both his feet.”
“We just reassured them,” First Sgt. Richard Weik, Battle Company First Sergeant, said. “They both kept sounding off with ‘battle hard first sergeant, battle hard’ (the Battle Company motto). Minor couldn’t hear, it was kind of funny cause every time we’d ask him something all he’d say is ‘what.’”
“It was unbelievable how we reacted. The incident probably happened two miles from our safe house and we were there in less then five minutes,” Weik said. “When we arrived everyone was already working, doing first aid, scouring the area, I just cannot say enough about my medics, it’s the one thing you really can’t train for. Most of the time they’re fixing blisters and pulling splinters out but every time here we’ve treated a lot of casualties, the medics have taken charge. I couldn’t be more proud of any of my soldiers.”
“You could tell those soldiers knew they were being taken care of,” Weik said. “They knew they were being taken care of and their morale was high, even after the surgery, they were both kind of groggy but it was still the same thing, ‘battle hard first sergeant, battle hard.”
Later, at the Forward Surgical Team’s area the soldiers received additional medical treatment.
“They were covered in blood, of course they were scared,” said Maj. John Devine, surgeon assigned to the 250th Forward Surgical Team, 62nd Medical Group, Fort Lewis Washington. “My patient (Pfc. Aaron J. Cady, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry) was worried he was going to lose his finger. When someone is injured like that, they really don’t know how bad it is, they’re covered in blood and dirt.”
Describing Cady’s wounds Devine explained that neither had suffered life-threatening injuries. Cady had suffered the injury to his index finger on his left hand.
Lt. Col Robert Rush, a surgeon also assigned to the 250th FST, operated on Pfc. Christopher G. Taffoya, Battle Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry, who suffered five shrapnel wounds to his right lower leg and another two to his left lower leg.
“Wounds like that can bother a person later,” Rush explained. “Many times additional surgeries are needed to get all the shrapnel out. Our main concern here was to remove the obvious pieces and to irrigate the wounds, to prevent infection.”
Both soldiers were evacuated from Kirkuk Military Airfield to Kuwait and then on to Landstuhl where they will soon board a plane for home in Vicenza Italy.