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Soldier Survives Stab-Wound to Head
Aviation Week's DTI | Catherine Macrae Hockmuth | October 24, 2007
The U.S. military tries to keep its distance from the enemy, which is why there is a lot of emphasis now on robots that can disable roadside bombs from a distance. While we know insurgents are everywhere in Iraq, we don't tend to think of soldiers encountering them head on. But they do, as this fascinating Army Times story about a soldier who survived being knifed in the forehead by an insurgent.

Doctors estimate that at least four inches of the knife was plunged into his head. The attack occurred at a cordoned-off blast site. What saved him was medical know-how, great logistics and quite a lot of teamwork.

It felt like a nasty sucker punch. Yet when he strained his eyes to the hard right, there was something that didn't belong: the pewter-colored contour of a knife handle jutting from his skull.

Sgt. Dan Powers, stabbed in the head by an insurgent on the streets of East Baghdad, triggered a modern miracle of military medicine, logistics, technology and air power.

His survival relied on the Army's top vascular neurosurgeon guiding Iraq-based U.S. military physicians via laptop, the Air Force's third nonstop medical evacuation from Central Command to America, and the best physicians Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland could offer.

It required extraordinary hustle from a string of ground medics, air medics, C-17 pilots, jet refuel technicians and more. Not an hour after the attack, Powers, a squad leader with the Army's 118th Military Police Company, was draped in sheets on a medical gurney bound for Balad Air Force Base, about 30 minutes away by helicopter.

Someone pressed a phone to his left ear so he could promise his wife, in a panic worlds away, that everything would be fine. He would soon drench a surgeon's hands in blood, narrowly surviving as a medical team opened his skull to extract 4 inches of blade from his brain.

These are the staggering measures that allowed Powers to keep his promise and his life.

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Copyright 2013 Aviation Week's DTI. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

 
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