Chris Cuomo On Surviving an IED Attack

ByABC News via via logo

Jan. 23, 2007 — -- Earlier today, ABC's Chris Cuomo was out on patrol with American troops training Iraqi forces when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. Thankfully, everyone emerged safe from the attack, except for one minor injury. Below is Cuomo's partial account of what happened:

We were out on patrol with the 410th M.P. Company. They're military police. We were going to a place in northwest Baghdad -- the soldiers go there almost every day. The purpose of their mission is to work with the local Iraqi police to establish rule of law to help fundamentally. They're not there to carry out operations but just to assist.

In this place right now, this is a war zone. So when they were out there assisting, we were with Capt. Jason Sama, who was in complete control the entire time.

What happened was that there was a report of a burning vehicle, one of the Iraqi police vehicles. We went out to discover that in a convoy of four armored Humvees. The key there is "armored." If these vehicles were not armored, the situation could have turned out very differently.

When we got there, a small fire was found, and the military went to assess the situation. As we got to the back of the situation, the captain was very much in control in directing his men where to go. Then, while we were looking at it, there were bodies on the side of the road. Those bodies turned out to be booby-trapped. They were an improvised explosive device, a massive one.

It rocked the entire vehicle, blew out the tires on two of the vehicles, destroyed much of the glass, rocked the vehicles in a very, very big way. A piece of shrapnel was almost stopped by this armored door. It came within fractions of an inch of going through the entire vehicle.

Then they exploded the bomb. Now small fire rang out, tracer bullets over the tops. The songs dismounted from the Humvees and got into a very systematic approach towards taking on the enemy fire. The captain jumped out to protect his men without hesitation, and they got control on the ground under this heavy, heavy small arms fire.

The vehicles were disabled, obviously, because of the strength of this explosion. But the soldiers were always in control. It is remarkable how they kept their calm in this situation -- the training, the poise, the dedication.

I didn't know what was going to happen. We were trapped inside the Humvee with a lot of heavy fire. But they were always in control, especially Capt. Sama. Then the troops regrouped and got us to safety.

This went on for minutes. This was not some random, quick explosion that then you just sit and assess. There was constant fire.

In the military, they never for a moment doubted the situation. Despite the yelling, those are calls of very specific directions. Sometimes the language gets a little off-color, but it's understood in a situation like that. We were able to get out of there.

Usually shrapnel is about the size of a fist. A piece of metal that size moving about 1,000 feet per second can cause incredible damage. In an ordinary vehicle, it can tear entire vehicles in half. This piece was one of the biggest the soldiers on the site had said he'd seen.

That piece of shrapnel is the size of a hubcap. It went all the way through the glass creating a five-inch indentation. Our vehicle had a lesser plating. If that had hit our vehicle, this could have been a catastrophic situation.

Remember, these soldiers deal with this every day. When I talked to the captain after this, the first thing he wanted to say was this is our duty. We'll be back here again tomorrow to carry this out.

An amazing testament to their dedication, whether the mission made sense and whether it is a situation that can be salvaged is another question. But these men were very calm under pressure. We certainly salute them.

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