KENNEWICK, Wash. - His kids call him dad, but fellow soldiers called him Staff Sergeant Andrew McMann. His job was to look for roadside bombs.
Sergeant McMann served just six-months in Iraq when he was injured and awarded his second Purple Heart. And five years later, he is reminded of his time at war every day.
"Somebody was up in a window, like I said just waiting for him to drive to a certain spot and then they clacked it off on him and it blew up," McMann said.
McMann and a contingent of troops were setting up to begin clearing houses down an urban street when they began to get ambushed.
"And this is while we're pulling a guy out of a vehicle that's already wounded. I mean, so we're getting ambushed," he said.
McMann said they rescued the wounded soldiers, then returned later to complete the mission. That is when things began to take a turn for the worse.
"I remember asking myself is this it? Am I dead? Am I dying? And this is all in this really cloudy period as the vehicle is still airborne in the middle of this explosion and I remember having the thought no way I am not going out like this," he said.
McMann said as soon as that thought entered his mind, everything sped up.
"I know that something is wrong with my legs at this point and I'm not completely sure they're actually there and I look down and no blood. I remember thinking I must be ok," he said.
But he was not okay, the force of the explosion broke five bones between both legs.
If he was not in a mine, a resistance ambushed protective vehicle, he said he would not be here today.
"To find out that the thing that gone off directly under where I was sitting and that it took my rifle which was also sitting down by my feet and it took the barrel and it wrapped it around like something you would see in looney tunes," he said.
Five-years later, Sergeant McMann's Purple Heart remains in its box, out of sight, as his experiences and his trauma remain fresh in his mind.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 2:40 AM EDT2013-05-21 06:40:56 GMT
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