Military Medical Team Makes the 'Toughest Call'

"We didn't tell them that, you know, Moss had live ordnance in him," Mariani said, "because there was that possibility that, you know, they might not want to transport him with live ordnance in him."

Preparations began for the rescue mission. But first the Blackhawk crew had to wait for clearance from commanders because the area was "hot" -- the battle was still raging. For MEDEVAC crew chief SSG Christian Roberts, it was a very long 15 minutes.

"When you know you have wounded people out there that are waiting for you to come pick them up, it seems like an eternity," he said.

The firefight died down and Mariani went over to check on Moss. Even though he was stunned by the fins sticking out of him, Mariani said, "I grabbed his hand and I just said, 'Hey, buddy, we're gonna get you out of here.'"

"Doc" continued working frantically to stabilize Moss even though the RPG was a danger to everyone around Moss. He knew that his only chance for survival was to get out of there and to a hospital quickly.

"I constantly was looking at my watch, saying, you know, 'When is the bird gonna get here, when is the bird gonna get here,'" medic Doc Angell said.

When Lt. Mariani pulled "Doc" aside to ask him if he thought Moss would make it, he could only shake his head no.

If Pvt. Moss was to not survive his injuries, his wife, six months pregnant with their second child, would lose her husband and his daughter Yuliana would lose her father. But just as Moss felt he would die, he heard the chopper. An Apache helicopter escorted the MEDEVAC chopper in case there was more gunfire.

Spc. Collier, the flight medic, quickly realized what they faced with Pvt Moss.

"I see a metal object protruding out, and there are fins on it, and I am like, 'This looks like this guy got hit with something, and it's stuck in him, and it didn't blow up,'" he said.

Army policy states that they are not supposed to transport soldiers in Moss' condition. The risk of catastrophic loss is too great -- four MEDEVAC crew members, three wounded soldiers and a helicopter could all be blown out of the sky.

But they also knew if they didn't take Moss. he would die.

Pilot CW2 Jorge Correa conferred with his soldiers: "I asked my crew, you know, 'Are you guys comfortable with this?'" he said. "Because I wasn't gonna put my crew in jeopardy if they weren't comfortable with it."

The crew quickly decided to take the risk.

Co-pilot Jeremy Smith recalled the tense moment.

"We all said, 'Yeah, let's get him on board and let's get outta here,'" he said.

As crew chief Christian Roberts said, "We are not gonna leave a U.S. soldier to die in the middle of Afghanistan."

Past the 'Golden Hour'

The MEDEVAC helicopter flew over mountains fully loaded with Moss and three other wounded, racing the clock. Moss' best chance of survival was to get advanced medical care within one hour of his injury. Trauma surgeons call it the "golden hour." But Moss' had already ended.

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