They were joined by Spc. Jun Zhang and the three soldiers began administering first aid to their wounded comrades, survivors said. Half limping, half dragging, the four seriously wounded soldiers — Jackson, Luten, Spc. James Grubb and Sgt. Curtis Campbell — took cover in a roadside ditch, helped to safety by Rose, Elliott, Zhang, CW3 Nash and Pfc. Marc Dubois, the driver of Cpl. Luten's now-disabled truck.
Separated from other members of the convoy, these 10 soldiers who escaped the ambush — four of them seriously wounded — hunkered down and waited.
Hiding behind a sand berm, the soldiers heard the unmistakable "clanking" sound of tanks. At first they feared the sound was from the Iraqi T-55s they had seen earlier. But as the machines slowly drove into view, one soldier said, "it was a great, great relief to see they were Marines. M1 Abrams. The M1s came up and just blew up a couple of those first buildings nearby."
Two Marine Cobra attack helicopters flew by over-head and one pilot hovered for a moment and gave the wounded soldiers a thumbs-up sign. A few minutes later, more Marine vehicles drove up, loaded the injured soldiers and took them to a landing zone up the road.
There, a Navy corpsman dressed the soldiers' wounds and injected them with painkillers. Two Marine cargo helicopters arrived and by 8:15 p.m. — 45 minutes after the attack began — the soldiers were at a Navy field hospital in Jalaba, on the operating table, and attended by a team of emergency medicine specialists. Shortly thereafter they were airlifted aboard one of two Black Hawk helicopters to another Navy field hospital in Kuwait.
None of those who escaped the ambush were able to say what happened at the rear of the convoy. Yet several soldiers said that even Sgt. Jackson's Humvee, a more nimble vehicle than the 18-wheelers and wreckers at the rear of the convoy, was taxed to its limit that day. All of the soldiers riding aboard the slow-moving wreckers ended up either dead or captured.
One of those captured, Sgt. James Riley, later confided to another soldier that he had watched in horror as the Humvee driven by Pfc. Lori Piestewa weaved frantically along the road, desperately trying to escape the hail of gunfire. That Humvee — carrying the company first sergeant, Master Sgt. Robert Dowdy, in the front passenger seat and Pfc. Jessica Lynch in a rear seat — plowed under the trailer of a 5-ton truck and came to a stop crushed into the "bobtail" hitch of the giant semi-tractor.
According to sources, Riley and Pfc. Patrick Miller jumped from their wrecker and ran to the crash scene, screaming into the vehicle: "Is anyone alive?" Gunfire was pinging into the metal all around them. According to at least one report, Miller single-handedly attacked several Iraqi soldiers he spotted setting up a mortar position and killed them, firing his M-16 until he exhausted all his ammunition. At one point, witnesses said, Miller's rifle jammed and he began "slamming rounds into the chamber one at a time" and firing them. He and Riley were eventually captured.