By Maj. Randall BaucomAugust 13, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Aug. 13, 2007) - Multinational Division - Baghdad Soldiers rescued a 2-year-old Iraqi boy from a dry well located near his family's residence Aug. 9.
Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, responded to the father's pleas for assistance.
Capt. David Powell, company commander, was about to begin a routine security patrol when the boy's father approached the coalition outpost's gate on foot. Capt. Powell quickly assessed the situation using an interpreter, then sent the patrol to help recover the child.
The father directed the Soldiers to the location of the well and Capt. Powell used his flashlight to find the child at the bottom.
"I could see that the baby had fallen some 25 feet and was lying at the bottom of the well," he said. "He appeared to be breathing, but would not answer to our calls."
Using a back hoe from the outpost, the patrol began a slow and meticulous process of digging a parallel shaft to the dry well, then tunneling to the well horizontally, being careful not to cause the well to cave in.
"The back hoe made quick work of the rescue shaft just to the south of the well. Then the real digging began," Capt. Powell said.
Fearing a cave-in but not wanting to risk his Soldiers, Capt. Powell chose to dig the horizontal shaft to the well himself, along with Staff Sgt. Roul Torres.
Using an entrenching tool, a flat-head screwdriver, rebar and other primitive farming tools, Capt. Powell and Staff Sgt. Torres went to work.
After several hours of digging, a faint crying was heard from the boy.
"He sounded scared, but OK," Capt. Powell said. "I don't think I have ever heard a more beautiful sound."
The horizontal shaft reached the well after five hours of digging. The well was basin shaped at the bottom, making the boy very difficult to locate. After several attempts to reach for the boy, Capt. Powell pulled him to safety.
Coalition medics on the scene assessed the boy and found no serious injuries. The child was then returned to his mother and father, who were thankful for the assistance. The patrol then filled in the hole and returned to their outpost.
"In my 18-years in the Army," Capt. Powell said, "this is, by far, the greatest thing I have ever done."
(Maj. Randall Baucom writes for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Public Affairs.)