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Unexploded Rocket-Propelled Grenade Impales Army Private in Afghanistan
September 22, 2007 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Featured last night on 20/20, Channing Moss was hit with an rocket propelled grenade while on patrol in Afghanistan. He was impaled through the abdomen by the RPG and an aluminum rod with one tail fin protruded from the left side of his torso. His fellow soldiers worried: Could he blow up and take them with him? For all anyone knew, the answer was yes. Still, over the course of the next couple of hours, his buddies, a helicopter crew and a medical team would risk their own lives to save his. Regardless of your feelings on the war, this is an amazing story of courage. More here and here.
posted by bluesky43 (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
This thread is useless without pics.
posted by alby at 11:35 AM on September 22, 2007


This thread is useless without pics.

They might have had other things on their minds.
posted by Alex404 at 11:42 AM on September 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow, amazing.
posted by zeoslap at 11:51 AM on September 22, 2007


Yes, remarkable.
posted by MarshallPoe at 11:57 AM on September 22, 2007


Inspiring and moving story of his fellow soldiers', doctors' and nurses' resolve to help him stay alive. Brave and self-sacrificing of all of them.
posted by nickyskye at 12:03 PM on September 22, 2007


Yikes.
posted by Artw at 12:11 PM on September 22, 2007


the 20/20 piece had video footage from the operation (someone in the room had the guts to film the surgery) but if you missed that, the website has some photos.
posted by bluesky43 at 12:14 PM on September 22, 2007


"Moss, 23, had a wife and a family back home in Gainesville; in Afghanistan he had a Mark 19 grenade launcher, a vicious weapon that can fire more than 300 grenades per minute. Moss began raining hell on their attackers."

Yikes, indeed.
posted by ColdChef at 12:15 PM on September 22, 2007


I'm sorry, but I'll have nothing to do with that asshole Stossel.
posted by e40 at 12:21 PM on September 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


ISTR something like this happened in the film Blackhawk Down (but not in the 'real life' it was based on according to the film commentary)?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:51 PM on September 22, 2007


"this is an amazing story of courage" ... or of utter stupidity, depending on how you look at it. This very easily could have turned out quite badly.
posted by banished at 1:18 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, what suffering.

It's a good thing this war is all for a just cause.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:31 PM on September 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's a good thing this war is all for a just cause.

Well this happened in Afghanistan. Knocking the theocratic Taliban from power was about as just a cause as you're gonna find.
posted by three blind mice at 1:41 PM on September 22, 2007


I bet you could probably write a little program that could produce an artificially generated thread that matches this one pretty closely, sight unseen.

Ah, Metafilter.
posted by kbanas at 1:47 PM on September 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


I bet you could probably write a little program that could produce an artificially generated thread that matches this one pretty closely, sight unseen.

But to his credit and at his own peril, bluesky43 remained at the computer long enough to post it.
posted by hal9k at 2:03 PM on September 22, 2007


I'm finding it interesting to imagine what I would do in this situation.

I think, in these sorts of thought experiments, people tend imagine that they would 'Do the right thing' more often then is realistic.

And to be perfectly honest about this situation, I don't think there's anyway I would have allowed myself near this guy, especially say, for an hour in a helicopter. To be even more honest, especially if I was a highly trained field medic with too much to lose.

At the same time, these guys knew the risks, so maybe if I did...

could I really look at someone and do nothing to save their life? Could I just as well look at his situation, say "Sorry buddy", and but a pistol round through his brain? Maybe out their you stop being afraid to die and just do what you can.

Who knows. I sure as hell don't. But it's interesting to think about.
posted by Alex404 at 2:06 PM on September 22, 2007


This writeup misses the most crucial point - was the RPG supplied by Iran?
posted by Flashman at 2:07 PM on September 22, 2007


Wow. Amazing.

It's nice to know that for as hard as we try, humans can't always be programmed to be mindless killing machines immune to empathy. Incredibly brave of his fellow soldiers and doctors.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:08 PM on September 22, 2007


2nding "fine line between courage and stupidity". Technically, they could have been signing the death warrant for many, including doctors, by bringing him in with a live round still ready to explode inside of him. That doesn't negate their heroism, though.

It would have been totally badass if he pulled a "Starship Troopers"
posted by tehloki at 2:10 PM on September 22, 2007


This may be silly, but this scenario was on Grey's Anatomy when someone had an explosive of some sort in his/her abdomen and Meredith was standing in the operating room holding it so that it wouldn't explode...
posted by PinkButterfly at 2:18 PM on September 22, 2007


ISTR something like this happened in the film Blackhawk Down (but not in the 'real life' it was based on according to the film commentary)?

From the book:

"Othic was struggling in the confined space to apply apressure dressing to the driver's bleeding shoulder when the RPG hit him. It rocketed in from the left, severing Kowalewski's left arm and entering his chest.There was an explosion but the head of the two-foot long missile embedded itselfin Kowalewski, the fins sticking out his left side under his missing arm, the point sticking out the right side. He was unconscious, but still alive."

He later died.

And, dude, what's with the 'real life' in quotes when you're talking about the actual event and not the movie?
posted by Cyrano at 2:26 PM on September 22, 2007


For future surgical reference, photographing such an operation might save more lives. Some surgical techniques are mentioned in Military Medicine, March 1999, Removal of Unexploded Ordnance from Patients: A 50-year military experience and current recommendations:
At a minimum, these patients should be isolated from the rest of the hospital to eliminate possible collateral damage from premature detonation. Although no instances of explosion have occurred, the risk of losing critical personnel and equipment resources is too great. A stretcher, gurney, and equipment necessary to remove the round should be moved to an isolated, protected area (bunker, sand pit, parking lot). Once the round is removed, the patient can be moved to the operating room for definitive care. Personnel protective equipment in the form of flak vests, headgear, and sandbag barriers around the patient should all be used.

The least amount of anesthesia necessary should be used. If a lower extremity or lower abdominal injury has occurred, a spinal anesthetic may be sufficient. The anesthetic should be placed so that the anesthesia provider does not need to be with the patient during removal. Nonflammable anesthesia without supplemental oxygen should be used to lessen collateral injury in case of detonation.

Minimal dissection of tissues should be done at the time of removal. En bloc resection of the surrounding tissues with the involved round lessens the chance of inadvertent metal-to-metal contact and overall manipulation of the round. Metal instruments should not touch the round, if possible, because this may also trigger an explosion. After the round has been removed, the patient should be transported to the regular operating theater, where the surgical procedure can then be safely completed.
The article's references [page 4] list several Vietnam news items about these surgeries:
Doctor digs live shell out of soldier. Pacific Stars and Stripes, October 3, 1966.
Surgeon cuts out grenade. Pacific Stars and Stripes, December 10, 1967.
Surgeon digs live shell from GI's abdomen. Pacific Stars and Stripes, January 26, 1968.
Doctor removes live grenade from GI's leg. Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 27, 1968.
Live grenade: deadly dilemma for doctor. Pacific Stars and Stripes, March 22, 1970.
During training in 2001, a Colombian soldier was accidentally shot in the face (note x-ray) with a grenade: it took four hours to remove it.

On preview, more about SPC Richard Kowalewski's death in Mogadishu, Somalia.
posted by cenoxo at 2:39 PM on September 22, 2007 [5 favorites]


This may be silly, but this scenario was on Grey's Anatomy when someone had an explosive of some sort in his/her abdomen

The bomb disposal guy in Afghanistan had actually been watching that episode recently, the ABC story says.

Anyway, I know an orthopedic surgeon in the IRR who's shipping out to Afghanistan any day now, his fourth tour (including a stint in Iraq at Balad). You don't often think of a field hospital as being an especially dangerous place to be.
posted by dhartung at 5:41 PM on September 22, 2007


The bomb disposal guy in Afghanistan had actually been watching that episode recently, the ABC story says.

That's what happens when you only read 2 of the 3 links. Sorry.
posted by PinkButterfly at 6:11 PM on September 22, 2007


Combat Medics are some truly crazy fuckers. Who is the dumb ass that runs over to the dip shit who didn’t duck? The Medic. In training a medic looses inhibition; they find the nobility of saving a life a greater purpose than logic of preserving their own. It becomes a reflex, an instinct that goes beyond reason. There is no hesitation, no consideration and no hero bullshit. It is just what they do. Live ordinance makes the problem tricky but I seriously doubt that this would deter their normal course of action. The tape is part is funny, very funny. But I know it was to stabilize or secure the device. What these people do only sounds extraordinary probably because you have never pledged your life to protect and serve those for whom you are given the responsibility to keep and preserve to the best of your ability and with your last breath if necessary without any hesitation or mental reservation. That’s commitment, that’s bat shit insane, that’s a Combat Medic.
posted by MapGuy at 7:06 PM on September 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Four more examples of live ordnance removal by American military surgeons in Vietnam are documented in A Partnership in Courage, from The Annals of Thoracic Surgery, May 2003:
Lieutenant Commander David A. Taft removed an embedded, armed, 2.76-inch rocket by amputation from a wounded marine. The rocket detonated unexpectedly after the extraction, fortunately wounding no one. Sergeant Daniel Henry, USMC, helped Taft with ordnance information during the operation. Henry was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery, but unfortunately was killed in a mortar attack 2 months later. His name is memorialized on The Wall in Washington DC.
Accompanying the article are two X-rays from other incidents: see Figure 1 (mortar round in chest) and Figure 2 (grenade in thigh).

With war being no respecter of persons, one might wonder how many Viet Cong and NVA soldiers suffered — and survived — similar wounds without the benefit of highly-trained surgeons and decent operating facilities.
posted by cenoxo at 8:29 AM on September 23, 2007


...WRT to the x-ray of the ARVN soldier with the mortar round in his chest, Vietnam EOD Veterans has a few more photos of the surgery.
posted by cenoxo at 11:30 AM on September 23, 2007


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