Afghanistan’s hell, the Sangin Valley: Why Sangin?
November 23, 2011, these photos updated May 27, 2012
The price of sacrifice in the Sangin Valley
Many treat our combatants as victims. I urge we simply treat them with respect instead.
I saw a photo the other day of LCpl. Jake Romo, USMC, going through physical therapy in San Diego having lost both legs in Sangin, Afghanistan, in his case in February 2011. My research on the Battles of Sangin compel me to organize a photo gallery honoring those men and women who have sacrificed so much in the Sangin, The words in my report fail to convey the whole message. I began this effort on November 23, 2011 and will build the gallery over time.
First, please pay your respects to those who lost their lives in Sangin.
A U.S. Marine with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, pays his final respects to U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider during a memorial ceremony held at Patrol Base Hanjar, Sangin, Afghanistan July 7, 2011. Schneider was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the district on June 30.
Now to those who survived having suffered horrific wounds. Please view them with enormous respect. They continue fighting to this day.
Lance Corporal Christopher Bogner was hit by an IED on July 11, 2012 in Sangin, Afghan. Bogner sustained shrapnel injuries which required surgery, two collapsed lungs, swelling of the brain, and shrapnel in the body. The collapsed lungs presented the greatest threat. He would end up getting pneumonia as a result. As of Septenber 15, 2012, he has made a remarkable recovery and was released from Walter Red and sent to San Diego. He presently has lacerations to his neck, a loss of a sizable amount of skin from his one forearm, he has lost his ear drum in the right ear, and a loss of sight in his right eye. Doctors feel they may be able to get his sight back. He’ll need more surgery. (091612)
Corporal Kionte Storey, USMC, was with the 3-7 Marines in Sangin. On September 7, 2010, while on patrol, he stepped on an IED in a hallway of a building they were inspecting. He lost his right leg below the knee but doctors saved his right leg. He, like so many, has made a remarkable recovery and now participates in the Warrior Games.
At Warrior Games held in May 2012, he ran 100 meters in 12.32 seconds.
Corporal Kevin Dubois, USMC, went out to replace a Marine wounded while guarding a hastily set up landing zone near Sangin. Dubois was a scout sniper by trade. He recalls leaving a residential compound his unit had occupied and reached the edge of the landing area. The helicopter was approaching. He then stepped on a well hidden IED and lost both legs up to his pelvis.
Corporal Ricky Fergusson, 4 Rifles, risked death four times to help rescue colleagues before he was also maimed by an IED in Sangin He lost both legs above the knee, an eye and five fingers. His face had to be rebuilt.
Lance Corporal Adam Devine works out in physical therapy with daughter Amya on his back. A machine-gunner with the 3-7 Marines in Sangin, he stepped on a 7-10 pound pressure plate, causing an IED explosion. His battlefield comrades saved his life until he got to a hospital, where they completed that work. He lost both his legs.
Cpl. Jordan Williams was a radio operator for his 1st Marine Division recon battalion commander. He was sitting in his commander’s light armored vehicle repairing the radio when an IED exploded under him. He had multiple fractures to both legs and his pelvis.
Lance Corporal Juan Dominguez was on a foot patrol in Sangin, a rifleman on the front line safeguarding the way for the others. He stepped on a 30 pound IED that threw him 15 feet into the air. He lost both legs, left arm, and his eardrum was shattered. His corpsman, working to stop the bleeding, refused to give him morphine fearing he would go into shock and he would not be able to revive him. It took 18 minutes for the medevac helicopter before he could get any relief for the pain. The bottom photo shows Dominguez and his family, along with Fred Siller, left, and Gary Sinise, right, both of whom work for wounded warriors and, in this case, are working to raise money to build the Dominguez family a home.
These two photos, taken by Anja Niedringhaus, AP, are of Corpora Burness Britt, USMC, 2-12 Marines. The first is shortly after he was placed on an Army “Dustoff” medevac helicopter after being seriously wounded on June 4, 2011 by an IED while leading 10 Marines through a wheat field near Sangin. Niedringhaus, who was embedded with the Dustoffs, explains, “He was thrown into the air, and landed with a thump in the field, a searing hot pain raging in his neck. He had been hit by a huge piece of shrapnel from a bomb and a major artery was cut. Britt believes the improvised explosive device was hidden and somebody triggered it from a distance, though he can't say for sure.” Part of his skull had to be removed because his brain had swollen to nearly twice its size. He has been through multiple surgeries, with more to go to rebuild his skull. During one of his surgeries, he suffered a stroke and is partially paralyzed on his right side. He is in rehabilitation in Richmond, Virginia and is regaining his speech. While walking, he wears a protective helmet. Niedringhaus found him and visited him in Richmond. Britt told her this: "The love for the Marines is deep in my heart, they are my family. I want to return immediately back to Afghanistan to help them keep fighting."
Corporal Ricky Fergusson receives the Military Cross from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace in December 2011 for his valor while on patrol in Sangin in October 2009. While on two different patrols with the 4th The Rifles, he and his colleagues were hit by an IED. Despite his own injuries, he rushed to help the others. A month later, he helped two more colleagues struck by an IED. Then his own patrol was hit by an IED, and he rushed to care for a severely injured soldier despite the threats around him. In January 2010, he was struck again by an IED and suffered extensive injuries. He lost both legs above the knee, five fingers, his left eye, and received serious damage to his lip and the side of his face. He has been selected to carry the Olympic flame while it tours the United Kingdom.
LCpl Jake Romo, 3-5 Marines “Darkhorse Battalion,” lost both legs in an explosion in Sangin February 2011. He is doing physical therapy at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego. Photo credit: David Gilkey, NPR.
LCpl Jorge Ortiz, USMC, lost both legs above the knees, four fingers on his left hand, and the thumb on his right hand while taking photos of a weapons cache in Sangin. He then stepped on an IED; January 15, 2011. This photo shows him at the Polytrauma Rehabilitation Center at the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. He will ultimately be fitted with prosthetic legs and learn to walk. At the time, he wassail to be in enormous pain. Those caring for him say he is determined to recover. Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times, presented by Soldiers Angels Germany
LCpl Blas Trevino, USMC, is holding on to his stomach where he had been shot outside Sangin and at the same time signaling his men to hurry up to board a medieval helicopter. A C/1-214 Army Aviation medieval had been hit as well. The pilot quickly pulled up to see if he could fly, decided he could, and returned to the exact spot where he had been hit. The crew saw no one, one of them named Campbell jumped out to look around, then all of a sudden Trevino jumped out of the bushes and sprinted to the helicopter, and another Marine followed him. Campbell hugged him and shouted, “You made it! You made it.” The skipper took off and got him to the hospital. AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, presented by Soldiers Angels Germany
LCpl Jerome Hanley, USMC, wounded in an insurgent attack north of Sangin, is loaded on a medevac helicopter from the US Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment at a "hot" landing zone that was under fire, May 15, 2011. AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, presented by The Atlantic
Cpl. Andrew Smith, USMC was a member of LCpl Hanley's (previous photo shot) sniper team also injured in an insurgent attack north of Sangin. In this photo he is being treated by Sgt. Jaime Adame, an Army medic, after being seriously wounded in an attack in Helmand Province on May 15, 2011. Corporal Smith ultimately recovered from his injuries. Credit Kevin Frayer/Associated Press
Fuselier Thomas James watches the coffin of his comrade in Coventry, England, September 23, 2009. His comrade, Fuselier Shaun Bush, was killed trying to save another colleague. James was hit by the blast that killed Bush. Presented by Military Photos.
Spc. Jenny Martinez, left, talks to injured LCpl. David Richvaslky, 1-5 Marines, after he is placed onto a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army’s Task Force Lift “Dustoff,” Charlie Company 1-214 Aviation Regiment after suffering shrapnel wounds to his head, outside Sangin. AP/Anja Niedringhaus, presented by The Durango Herald
1st Lt. James Byler, USMC, 3-5 Marines, undergoes physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, December 22, 2010. An explosion severed both his legs and snapped off the ends of several fingers while he was leading a patrol in the Sangin area. Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times, presented by Soldiers Angels Germany.
Captain Anthony Harris, A/2-Royal Regiment Fuseliers, was injured when the Jackal vehicle he was patrolling in was blown up by an IED in Sangin in May 2009. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian