This past April four Army soldiers assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for their actions on behalf of a gravely wounded soldier in the Garmsir District of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Here is their story.
Helmand Province in Afghanistan has had a very deadly reputation. One of the most devastating and deadly weapons that the enemy has deployed in these post 9/11 wars has been the Improvised Explosive Device or IED. These “homemade” explosives are used as anti-personnel and anti-vehicle weapons by the insurgents. The U.S. military has developed heavily armored vehicles called Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles to counter the power and shrapnel effects of these IEDs. While this technology has prevented many deaths and serious injuries, they are not totally invulnerable.
The insurgents have made the IED’s larger and more powerful in response to these vehicles.
On October 4, 2018, a platoon from the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Teams was on a vehicle patrol in the Garmsir District when one of their MRAPs was disabled by an IED. Sgt. 1st Class Timoteo Salinas, Staff Sgt. Andrew Brant, Staff Sgt. Ryan Bomze and Spc. Alexander Jimenez were part of a quick reaction force team that went out to help in recovering the vehicle.
When they arrived an EOD team cleared a path up to the rear of the disabled MRAP and extracted the six soldiers who were trapped inside. As this was going on another EOD soldier, Sgt. James Slape, 23, of the North Carolina National Guard 430th Ordinance Company, was attempting to clear the area around the vehicle of any other IEDs when a second IED went off gravely wounding Slape.
Spc. Jimenez immediately dismounted from his vehicle and ran to the wounded Slape. He did this knowing that the site had not been fully cleared by the EOD team. He sprinted across about 50 meters of ground to get to Slape. His fellow soldiers, Brant and Salinas joined him there.
Slape’s wounds were devastating, but he was still alive. The men attempted to apply tourniquets to stop the bleeding, but it proved to be very difficult. Jimenez then started using his own body weight in the effort to get the bleeding under control. According to the award citation, “Jimenez manually applied pressure to the artery in Slape’s left leg and applied Combat Gauze to help stop the bleeding.”
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They were able to get the bleeding under control, so they turned their attention to maintaining Slape’s airway. They used a needle decompression kit, inserting the needle into Slape’s chest to relieve the pressure in his lung and then attempted to start intravenous fluids. This too proved to be difficult, so Jimenez started a direct infusion of fluids into Slape’s bone marrow.
While they were working on them, Staff Sgt. Bomze began looking for a helicopter landing zone and calling in a medevac flight. When the medevac arrived at site, they were able to get the gravely wounded soldier on board and off to the rear. They then continued their mission to recover the MRAP.
It was found later that there were at least three more IEDs in the immediate area where all of this took place.
Unfortunately, Sgt. James Slape did not survive his devastating wounds, despite the heroic efforts of Jimenez, Brant, Salinas and Bomze.
For those efforts on behalf of their wounded brother, in the middle of a minefield full of IEDs, these four men were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with valor on April 12, 2019. The Veterans Site sends its deep respect and thanks to Sgt.1st Class Timoteo Salinas, Staff Sgt. Andrew Brant, Staff Sgt. Ryan Bomze and Spc. Alexander Jimenez. You showed noble courage, clear dedication to duty and skilled care for your wounded brother in extremely dangerous circumstances.
We honor your efforts on his behalf. We send our deepest condolences to the family of Sgt. James Slape.
Rest in Peace good soldier.
Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.