| Sergeant Charles Horgan at an army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. (AFP)
Kuwait, March 28: Sergeant Charles Horgan was in the turret of his Humvee all-terrain vehicle approaching a group of men in civilian dress next to a bridge north of Nasiriyah when he heard a whizzing noise.
“I looked down the road,” he said yesterday. “There was a rocket coming towards us. I said to myself: ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die’. It was like in the movies. I shouted: ‘RPG.’ No sooner had I said it, it blew me off the truck.”
His foot was destroyed when the rocket hit their vehicle, and he is now one of at least 22 soldiers with combat injuries being treated at the US army hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
“I looked at my foot and it looked like it was gone by the way my boot was hanging and I put it out of my mind,” he told a press conference at the hospital.
Sgt Horgan, 21, a gunner, said Staff Sgt Jamie Villafane, the Humvee driver, yelled a warning that another RPG was coming towards them. “It flew right past him and I saw him dodge to the side of the road and saw him go into my buddy’s truck which was right behind us.”
“They all got out OK. I was just focused on not panicking. I was oddly rational about things.” Staff Sgt Villafane, 31, of Brentwood, New York, who suffered a wound to his left arm, managed to pull the Humvee back, pursued the Iraqi attackers and forced four to drop their assault rifles and surrender.
“I could see they were all terrified,” he said. “They had robes on to look like Bedouins.”
The half-dozen or so Iraqis, all in civilian dress, had stopped a three-vehicle convoy of the First Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment from Fort Benning, Georgia. Soldiers said they had been shocked at the way the Iraqi army was disguising itself as civilians, mingling with women and children and in one case firing from a hospital. “We were briefed that they might do it, but we’d had no problems with civilians up to that time,” said Staff Sgt Villafane.
He said he was bewildered by the hostile reception. “The amount of resistance, I don’t understand. We’re there to help them get out of the regime.”