A Chance Encounter in Afghanistan

Bob Woodruff says thank you to the men who saved his life.

July 21, 2009 — -- Three years ago ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff suffered a severe brain injury in a roadside IED attack in Iraq. He was flown to a military hospital in Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad, Iraq, where the medical team there saved his life.

Woodruff made his first return to Iraq last week since his injury, in the hopes of visiting Balad for the first time since his injury. He planned to report on the medical professionals who had saved his life and risked their own lives every day to save others.

In the end, one thing stood between Woodruff and Balad — a blinding sandstorm.

Grounded in Kirkuk,Iraq, and unable to make the planned one-day visit to Balad, Woodruff reluctantly left the next day for a scheduled trip to Afghanistan with Adm. Michael Mullen.

The change in schedule landed Woodruff at a military hospital at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

This hospital and others like it are seeing a growing number of doctors, nurses and medics who first served in Iraq and ended up to Afghanistan.

Coincidentally, two of the men who saved Woodruff's life in 2006 are now working in Afghanistan saving others.

After the initial disbelief wore off, Woodruff showed his gratitude and embraced both men, a nurse, Lt. Mike McCarthy and Col. Warren Dorlac, a doctor and chief of the trauma unit at a U.S. hospital in Germany, who treated Woodruff after he was airlifted out of Iraq.

Dorlac credited the medics for making sure Woodruff made it to a hospital the day he was injured. "You probably wouldn't be alive without the medics in the field," he told Woodruff.

"I'm giving them hugs, because this is personal," explained Woodruff. "These are the guys who saved so many lives, including mine. It's emotional.

While the hospital in Kandahar is a harsh reality of the war in Afghanistan, for Woodruff it's also an unexpected chance to say thank you.