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Alert Guardsmen spot IED, save supply route

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/6/2004

By Spc. Andy Miller

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, May 6, 2004) -- "BOOM!" The car exploded and there was nothing left but nuts and bolts.

April 12 started out as an average day for Staff Sgt. David Jensen and Sgt. Bruce Hartman of Fox Battery, 202nd Air Defense Artillery, part of the Illinois National Guard, attached to the 1st Cavalry Division. The past week had been rough on them. They had been involved in ambushes, attacks and firefights, but today was just another day patrolling the streets of Baghdad.

Then it happened. A broken down car was parked on their patrol route.

"There was something suspicious about it, and we try to check everything that is suspicious," Maj. Michael Kessel, the Fox Battery commander said. "If something doesn't look right, we stop and take a look at it. That is pretty much our (standard operating procedure)."

After driving by the dubious-looking vehicle, Jensen decided to turn his patrol convoy around for a better look. His squad put up a security perimeter as Jensen examined the vehicle.

"We were looking at it through the (binoculars)," Jensen said. "We got closer and closer, and we were checking every angle of it. I walked up, saw that there was a cell phone sitting on the dash and a package on the driver side and yelled out, 'get the (heck) out of here', and ran back over."

The patrol called an explosive ordnance disposal crew to the site to take care of the improvised explosive device. When the EOD Soldiers arrived, they noticed Hartman's M-14 sniper rifle and asked him for a favor.

"Hartman was the sniper who took out the detonating device," Kessel said. "The interesting thing is, he's trained as a cook. It took two shots, one to knock out the windows, and then to knock out the detonation device."

With the windows shattered, and the detonation device destroyed, the scene was safe for EOD. They blew the vehicle up in place.

"After the explosion.we drove back and the car was gone," Hartman said. "The body of the car was gone, the frame, the axels, the motor, everything was gone. It was just nuts and bolts."

In an instant, what could have turned into catastrophe on a busy coalition supply route, turned into simple nuts and bolts. Jensen and Hartman were awarded Army Commendation Medals by Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the 1st Cav. Div. commanding general, during a April 29 ceremony.

According to Jensen and Hartman, they were just doing their jobs. Its one of those things, maybe something you haven't been trained to do, but you step up and do it to the best of your ability, Hartman said.

"Neither of us are in it for awards, nobody is in it for awards," Jensen said. "At the time we didn't think about a bridge being blown up or anything. Just like any IED, it would have done harm to somebody."

(Editor's note: Spc. Andy Miller is assigned to the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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