PRT Soldier ignores own injuries, treats others
August 29, 2011
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KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Aug. 29, 2011 -- For Staff Sgt. Chris Ackley, a civil affairs specialist with the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team, helping others is starting to become a trend.
Ackley provided medical care to Soldiers and a civilian after sustaining injuries from a grenade attack during a mission in the Sabari District Aug. 15.
This is the second event in which he used his medical skills to aid others, having helped save an Afghan woman's life after she suffered a gunshot wound July 6.
"I was at the right place at the wrong time," Ackley said.
The mission the afternoon of Aug. 15 for Ackley and Khowst PRT Civil Affairs officer in charge U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Docksey, was to conduct engagements with the elders and citizens of Majies Village.
Soldiers from 1st Platoon, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, and the Afghan National Army, pushed out at 2:30 p.m. to carry out their task.
After more than three hours of engaging the locals, the team returned to their vehicles for the ride back to their headquarters at Combat Outpost, or COP, Sabari. However, before they reached the vehicles two grenades were lobbed over a nearby wall, one bouncing off the radio telephone operator's back and the other landing 20 feet from Ackley.
The team scattered and took up defensive positions. After the grenades exploded, the team started to take small arms fire from an unseen enemy.
During the fire fight, Ackley said he was struck by shrapnel. Ignoring the pain, he aided the team in securing the area, enabling the wounded to find cover in a nearby house.
"The (infantry) training many of [us] had gone through really came into play," said Docksey. "We knew to move right away and what to do when recovering."
Once they secured their defensive perimeter, Ackley jumped in to help the combat medic in treating the wounded, which included two Soldiers and a civilian reporter.
One of the Soldiers had shrapnel wounds all over his back, legs and feet, according to Ackley.
"He got the brunt of the blast from the grenade," Ackley said.
The attackers fled into the hills after the attack.
After taking stock of the situation, the team decided to convoy back to COP Sabari, and receive medical treatment there. After initial assessment and treatment, Ackley was airlifted to a facility able to provide a higher level of care.
"I pretty much got stripped naked and thrown onto the (helicopter) with an emergency blanket so my butt was to the wind," he said.
Ackley said he never thought twice about providing aid while ignoring his own medical needs.
"I did my job as a medic," Ackley said. "I could still walk, although it hurt to bend down and move. Other people needed (medical) attention. I was capable helping the doc out -- so I did."
Docksey was especially impressed with Ackley's actions.
"What Sergeant Ackely did to ignore his own wounds to help others showed he was focused on helping the other guys," he said. "He kept doing what he could do to help out; not focusing on his pain until everybody else had been helped."