Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Coalition Soldiers Rescue 2-year-old Iraqi Boy From Well

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers rescued a 2-year-old Iraqi boy from a dry well in which he fell Aug. 9.

Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division responded to the pleas for assistance from the father of a 2-year-old boy who had fallen into a dry well near the family’s residence.

The company commander, Capt. David Powell of Newport Beach, Calif., was about to begin a scheduled security patrol when the boy’s father approached the gate of his Coalition outpost on foot. Using an interpreter, Powell quickly assessed the situation and sent the patrol to assist with the recovery of the child.

The father directed the Soldiers to the location of the well and 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,” Powell 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,” said Powell.

Because of the instability of soil, a fear of a cave-in and desire to not risk any of his Soldiers, Powell selected himself and Staff Sgt. Raul Torres, a native of San Venito, Texas, to dig the horizontal shaft to the well.

Using an entrenching tool, a flat-head screwdriver, rebar and other primitive farming tools, Powell and Torres went to work.

After several hours of digging, a faint crying was heard from the boy.

“He sounded scared, but OK,” said Powell. “I don't think I have ever heard a more beautiful sound.”

After five hours of digging the horizontal shaft reached the well. The well was basin shaped at the bottom, making the boy very difficult to locate. After several attempts to reach for the boy, Powell was able to pull the boy to safety.

Coalition medics on the scene quickly assessed the boy, finding 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 they dug, and returned to their outpost.

The following day, Powell visited the family’s residence with a medic to ensure the child was not having any medical issues from the fall. The medic determined the child was in perfect health.

“In my 18-years in the Army,” Powell said, “this is, by far, the greatest thing I have ever done.”

Source: MNF-Iraq.

Update: DVIDS has a pics of the well and of Captain Powell and the boy here.

Hat Tip: Chuck.