When the IED exploded, it tore the doors off the Humvee, propelled its engine block skyward, and launched a fire-engulfed man out of the gun turret into the night sky.
That story with variations has happened countless times in distant places.
The story I read, written by Lynn Vincent, also told of those who came to the rescue. Speeding through the gates of the forward operating base, 42-year-old Sgt. 1st Class James Sanders commanded a Humvee gun-truck with two Bradley fighting vehicles close behind.
Racing toward the fireball that had been the Humvee hit by the IED, Sfc. Sanders and his team arrived in less than 2 minutes. As he shouted a situation report into his radio, he heard calls for help coming from his left.
Sanders and his men pointed their flashlights toward the sound and found Spc. Kevin Downs lying where the explosion had thrown him, 35 feet from the Humvee. Downs said he was not in pain. He was unable to feel the injuries to his arm, leg, feet, and charred flesh.
When asked, he told them who else was on the truck — fellow soldiers. As medics lifted him onto a gurney, Downs grabbed Sanders’ hand and said: “Promise me you’ll go get those (expletives) that did this to me and my crew.”
“I will,” Sanders promised. “Second Platoon will do so.”
In the next few moments, the promise became even more determined: The three other soldiers were dead.
Memorial Day is an attempt to keep the sacrifice of those who serve our country before us. Moses wanted a similar thing for the people of Israel. He told them, “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV).
Let’s be no less vigilant to remember the sacrifices made on behalf of our country, lest we forget.