Attacked in Iraq: 'Am I Alive?'


"I could tell that's the story he wanted to tell, and I honestly wanted him to tell that story. Because I think it's a story that needed to be told, that you had an Iraqi unit, who was out there leading the fight. They weren't running. They weren't running scared," said Taylor.

"It was not a preplanned thing that we were going to do," Vinnie Malhotra recounted. "It was kind of an on-the-spot, on-the-scene decision, which, obviously, you know, most of these decisions get made that way."

Taylor said Bob understood the risks.

"I warned him of the dangers, and he understood that. But I felt comfortable putting him in that vehicle," Taylor said.

The now joint convoy, made up of both Iraqi and U.S. military vehicles, started heading down Route Tampa, a major artery leading out of Baghdad, to the next checkpoint 5 kilometers -- a little over 3 miles -- up the road.

Almost immediately, Doug went up through the Iraqi tank hatch and started filming the scenery. Bob soon joined him to attempt a stand-up, in which a journalist speaks directly into a camera.

After a few attempts, the crew called Bob back inside the tank to tell him the noise was overpowering his voice.

"But you know, Bob can't stay crouched down in a tank for more than 10 seconds, and so he immediately popped up," said Malhotra.

Shortly after, the tank was rocked by an IED.

Explosion, Then Chaos

"It didn't take two minutes, and there was this humongous blast," said Macedo. "It's like a wave of evil that comes and shakes everything, and then everything comes to a standstill."

"I look at Vinnie [Malhotra], and Vinnie had big eyes, and he was screaming like hell."

Malhotra said he still remembers the fear.

"Just out of nowhere there was this bang … this immediate feeling of terror as you start to smell smoke," said Malhotra. "I remember feeling this complete cold feeling through my body and just, I think I began to scream 'no!'"

The bevy of activity that ensued immediately after the IED went off was punctuated by enemy fire coming in from three different locations.

Taylor ran from his vehicle up to where the IED had gone off. He remembered the Iraqis taking charge of the firefight, so the Americans could focus exclusively on the casualties.

The concussive force of the blast had thrown Doug backward on top of the tank.

"I didn't see a flash of smoke or a flash of light, and I was knocked back basically. I just remember the concussion and the force throwing me backward, throwing me back on top of the tank," said Vogt. "I was lying on my back, staring up at the blue sky, and I had a massive ringing in my head."

At this point, Bob crumpled back down inside the tank.

"I grabbed his flak jacket and I remember noticing a hole in the side of his neck, where I believe some shrapnel or rock or something had pierced," recalled Malhotra. "I remember thinking the only thing that I knew how to do at that moment was to just put my hand over his neck, maybe to try to stop some sort of bleeding."

Together, Vinnie and Magnus were able to pull Doug down. He appeared to be regaining consciousness but was bleeding heavily.

It was clear to the military personnel in their initial assessment that Bob's condition was more critical than Doug's, who had a gash on his head and was at risk for swelling. Bob was losing a lot of blood and had suffered a severe head trauma.

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