By Sgt. Daniel A. Carter, USASOC PAO NCOApril 30, 2013
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- The instincts of an American Soldier took over when three United States Special Operations Soldiers rendered emergency first aid to those who had fallen victim to the bombings at The Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013.
"I was recovering at the water point when the first bomb went off approximately 50 meters away," said Sgt. 1st Class Chris Spielhagen, a team sergeant in the Group Support Battalion of the Ft. Carson-based 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). "At first it sounded like a celebratory cannon had been fired off, which I thought was rather odd." After turning towards the blast, his training as a Special Forces demolition engineer instantly told him that a bomb had just detonated.
"The sound of the blast reminded me exactly of the IED's that I experienced during my five combat deployments to Iraq," said Lt. Col. David P. Diamond, United States Special Operations Command legislative affairs officer.
As Spielhagen moved toward the blast site, so did Diamond. Diamond and Spielhagen met heavy resistance from the volunteer force that was trying to keep the other runners out of harm's way.
"I had to physically push my way through these volunteers, as I was determined to provide any leadership and medical assistance as I could," said Diamond.
Shortly after the first bomb had exploded, a second separate explosion echoed the first. Cpl. Paul Cusack, forward observer in 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., arrived at the second explosion site to find multiple people lying in the street and on the sidewalk. Cusack's Army training immediately kicked in and he assessed the scene and began looking for people he could help. He moved quickly from one victim to the next, providing aid where it was needed. Once Cusack had helped as many of the victims as he could, he continued to provide assistance to the Boston Police.
After the explosions, Diamond began to re-organize the medical personnel and volunteers in the area of the first explosion in order to help all of the victims who needed help. Diamond had advised the group of emergency responders to distribute their medical supplies and treat those who desperately needed them, as the supplies were limited. Once the supplies were distributed, Diamond entered a sports store to find more medical supplies.
"I distributed these materials to as many responders as I could before exhausting my supplies," said Diamond, as he moved off to continue to render emergency aid to 10 more victims.
Once emergency first aid had been rendered to as many people as it could, Diamond, Speilhagen, and Cusack took a step back to assess the situation.
"At this point the area started to change over into an investigation scene," said Cusack, "I stayed for another few minutes to see if there was anything else I could do, but it was over."
Once they had realized that there was nothing more for them to do, as all the victims had been cared for, they immediately left to find their families who were also at the event.
"Completely exhausted and covered in blood, I departed Boylsten Street in the direction requested by Boston Police," said Diamond, "My next task was to find my family."
The Soldiers' families had been near the bombing sites at the time of the explosions, although close by, all of their family members left the scene without injury.
"While expected in combat, these men brought not only their experiences but clearly their courage as well to aid those injured during this terrible event," said Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commander, U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
The three Soldiers are being considered for Army and civilian awards for their actions.