The cost of war

From Time magazine:

For several seconds after the rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) drilled through the back of their armored M113 “battle taxi,” the soldiers inside, mainlining adrenaline, continued firing. Then they started screaming. “It blew my leg clean off,” says Private First Class Tristan Wyatt, who was standing at the rear of the armored personnel carrier (APC), unloading an M-240 machine gun at a dozen or more Iraqis who had ambushed them minutes before. He was the first to be hit. The RPG then passed through Sergeant Erick Castro’s hip, spinning him violently to the floor. His left leg was still attached — but barely. “I picked up my leg and put it on the bench,” he says, “and lay down next to it.” Finally, the RPG shredded Sergeant Mike Meinen’s right leg. “It was pretty much torn off,” he says. “There was just some meat and tendons holding it on.”

— snip —

The medic, the wounded soldiers and their comrades began a frantic race against the clock. Buddies pressed their hands into Castro’s hip wound to keep him from bleeding to death. The wound was so massive that his tourniquet was useless. He handed it to Wyatt, who needed two to stanch the blood flowing from his femoral artery. Amid the mayhem, Meinen, who had been manning a 50-cal. machine gun, noticed that he didn’t have any feeling in his right foot. “It felt like it had gone to sleep on me, so I picked my foot up and was trying to massage it, trying to get the feeling back,” he says. “But then it dawned on me: it wasn’t even connected. So I put it on the floor.”

They tried to raise their wounded legs to slow the bleeding. “There was nothing to elevate my leg except for the piece of my leg that had been blown off from the knee down,” Wyatt says. “So I took my leg and jammed it under the stump to keep it pointing up. It was kind of messy.”

To my mind, the most poignant and heartbreaking part of the story comes near the end:

The three wounded soldiers are united not only in their good humor but also their unequivocal support for the war. Wyatt doesn’t much care for those who think Bush fudged the intelligence on Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. “That makes you feel like you fought for nothing or you fought for a liar,” he says. “They’re telling me I went out there and I got my leg blown off for a liar, and I know that’s just not true.”