Armor shields Soldier from sniper's fire
November 4, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq - The Combat Action Badge was awarded to one 1st Cavalry Division Soldier for actions during what started out as a simple mission but ended up turning into a near-fatal incident one early October afternoon in Kirkuk, Iraq.
First Lieutenant Felice Terrigno, a platoon leader with 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and his Soldiers had a simple mission Oct. 2; escort the U.S. Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal team from Forward Operating Base Warrior in Kirkuk to an unexploded ordnance location.
"We were tasked to take the EOD team out to an area the Iraqi Police reported to contain unexploded ordnance pointed towards the base," 1st. Lt. Terrigno recalled.
According to 1st. Lt. Terrigno, his platoon was to arrive at the scene, dismount, and establish security around the unexploded ordnance, allowing the EOD team to dispose of it.
After arriving to the scene, 1st Lt. Terrigno said he heard what sounded like a thunderous clap; the sound of weapon fire.
"I could tell it was close, and my first thought was what happened," he said.
In what 1st. Lt. Terrigno described as the longest three seconds of his life, he said he felt a thud to his stomach and immediately hit the ground; not so much as from the impact of a bullet but as a trained reaction to the sound of gunfire.
"My platoon sergeant yelled out 'Sniper!' and everyone hit the ground and began taking cover," 1st. Lt. Terrigno said. "I got up, adrenaline pumping, and ran to the back of one of the vehicles."
First Lieutenant Terrigno said he still didn't fully comprehend what exactly had just taken place but soon realized that he had been shot.
"I knew I was in a lot of pain."
First Lieutenant Terrigno climbed into the back of one of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, informed his Soldiers he had been hit and they began removing his gear to assess the extent of his injuries.
A single round had penetrated two of 1st. Lt. Terrigno's ammunition magazines and had nearly passed through his armor plate just above and to the right of his belly button.
Once his gear was removed, 1st. Lt. Terrigno said his stomach had a sizeable welt and was swelling from the impact of the bullet against his body.
"I thought I had broken a rib," he said.
The determination was made that his injuries were not life threatening; and the incident was reported to higher headquarters.
The shooting was an eye opener for 1st. Lt. Terrigno and his men.
"It ... has served as a reminder to us that things still happen here in Iraq," 1st. Lt. Terrigno said. "I feel like I'm a lucky guy because if it weren't for my ammo magazine the bullet would have caused a lot more damage but, I'm glad it happened to me and not one of my Soldiers."