Soldier Survives Knife in Skull

Blade penetrated sergeant's brain, but he survived with skills intact.

ByABC News via GMA logo
October 31, 2007, 10:00 AM

Oct. 31, 2007 — -- Of all the injuries in the war in Iraq, the one Sgt. Dan Powers sustained was among the most unusual.

Powers, a member of the Army's 118th MP Company Airborne, was in eastern Baghdad investigating an explosion when suddenly an Iraqi walked up to him and stabbed him in the right side of his head. He didn't know what hit him.

"It felt like someone kind of clothesline tackled me and a thump on the side of the head, like a bang," he said.

An Iraqi teenager had inched up behind Powers on a Baghdad street and plunged a 9-inch knife deep into his skull, penetrating his brain.

Powers, who did not realize he had been stabbed, reacted quickly by throwing his attacker to the ground. Sgt. Michael Riley then tackled the man and turned him over to Iraqi security forces.

"He had no idea what had really happened," said Spc. Ryan Webb, a company medic. "I did have to fight a few people off that came by and were like, 'Whoa, you've got a knife sticking out of your head.'"

Amazingly, Powers remained conscious and alert as he was rushed to a combat hospital, when he finally noticed the knife and realized the gravity of his injury.

"They kept telling me to go sit down, they didn't tell me how bad I was hurt yet," Powers said.

Just a few hours later, doctors in Iraq prepared to take the daring but necessary action of pulling the knife out of Powers' skull -- a move they knew might kill him, and almost did.

Powers lost 2 liters of blood -- about 40 percent of the total in his body.

Back home now at Ft. Bragg, Powers and his wife Trudy are counting their blessings.

"All along I knew he would live because I know him and I know how strong a guy he is," Trudy said.

Amazingly, Powers' memory, speech and coordination are all intact.

"I have a little bit of a loss of sensation on my face due to all of it and I can't raise my right eyebrow. So I am kind of like Mr. Spock," Powers joked.

And Powers is forever grateful for the care he received from the military.

"Those are the heroes to me. They're my heroes," he said. "I am just glad to have made it when so many didn't."