AMARAH, Iraq - Three junior leaders of the Long Knife Brigade have several lessons they want to teach the next generation of Soldiers.
Sergeant Nicolas King, Sgt. Steven Robinson and Sgt. Javier Reyes woke to the violent impacts of the first of six 107mm rockets near the tent where they slept with other Soldiers Aug. 19.
Reyes, a cavalry scout and Phoenix native, low-crawled to his tent's entrance to see what was happening. Just then, another rocket impacted in front him, throwing him back into his tent.
Reyes was not hurt, but the rocket injured three Soldiers and damaged the tent across from him. The combat veteran, on his third tour in Iraq, yelled for the medic who was located at the opposite end of the tent.
King, a combat medic and three-tour veteran, started making his way from the back of the pitch-black tent to the injured troops outside.
"I was sound asleep... but I woke up to a couple of bangs," King recalled. "The first thing that came to mind was 'Where's the bunker''"
A five to 10-second pause between rocket strikes allowed the troops enough time to start donning their body armor and move toward their up-armored vehicles outside.
"I know what artillery rounds sound like," said Robinson. "I've heard rounds impact before, but (they were) never that close before - that was a new experience."
Sergeant First Class George Stanciel, a platoon sergeant in Forward Support Company, 54th Eng. Bn., was mortally wounded in the attack. He and his platoon were conducting an early morning distribution patrol when they received indirect fire. Stanciel was directing his Soldiers to take cover, ensuring their safety, when he was gravely injured.
Like Stanciel who lost his life saving the lives of others, Robinson knew he needed to get his Soldiers to a safer location.
"Being in a tent was not where I wanted my Soldiers to be," explained Robinson, a member of the commander's personal security detachment. "I got accountability of my guys and made sure they were geared up. I sent them to the humvees with another sergeant."
King said Reyes' echoing "Medic!" lit a fire in him as he groped around the far end of the tent for his aid bag. He rapidly moved to help the injured troops they could see in another tent.
"The injured Soldier's squad leader was applying buddy care to him on the floor," said King.
King doesn't remember the number of times his combat medic skills have been called into duty over the years, but at the decisive moment, his instinct kicked in, and he put his skills into action, applying bandages to the first wounded Soldier he found.
"Then, my main concern was to get him to the clinic," Reyes said. "We grabbed the guy and put him on the cot - then we thought, 'We need a litter' - the light bulb came on, and we realized that we just put him on a (field expedient) litter."
Reyes, King and the injured Soldier's squad leader picked up the cot and ran toward the field surgical team's clinic approximately a football field's distance away.
"As we were running, I distinctly heard a couple of mortar or missile rounds coming in: 'Swish, swoosh!'" Reyes said. "They felt like they landed pretty close, but I don't know where they landed."
Robinson was just clearing the area when he saw the group carrying the injured Soldier on the cot.
"I saw that they needed a hand, and I helped them out," Robinson said. "I'm sure someone else would have done it. But I'm the kind of guy who wants to help out. It made me feel good knowing that I helped this guy get there and get to treatment."
The troops handed over their injured comrade to trained medical personnel.A,A
"We got him to the clinic and the docs there took over," Reyes said.
King came across an injured Soldier with minor head and facial wounds as he returned to the area. The Soldier's large rucksack, positioned several feet away from the rocket's impact, took the brunt of the damage.
"Someone upstairs likes him," King explained. "He was lucky - he was bandaged up by the time I got back."
"Those guys at the FST did a tremendous job," King concluded.
The third injured Solider suffered superficial wounds and received care from the aid station.
The personal security detachment continued its mission after assisting the wounded. The team found the rockets' launchers and called in an explosive ordnance disposal team to destroy them.
The local Iraqi Army troops later detained a small group of perpetrators nearby.