Australian hostage grateful to Soldiers for rescue
By Spc Erin Robicheaux
June 17, 2005
CAMP TIGERLAND, Iraq (Army News Service, June 17, 2005) — “I’m so glad to see you blokes!” beamed an elated Douglas Wood in his thick Australian accent when he was rescued by Soldiers in northwest Baghdad.
Held hostage by terrorists for six weeks, Wood was rescued June 15 by Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, while conducting cordon-and-search missions to locate and destroy terrorist cells in the Al Adel neighborhood of Baghdad.
The Iraqi brigade was assisted by Task Force Baghdad’s 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“The 256th Brigade conducted comprehensive offensive operations for the past month in some of the most hostile neighborhoods of Baghdad,” said Brig. Gen. John Basilica Jr., commander of the 256th BCT. “Most of these operations were joint combat patrols with Iraqi Army units. We provided military transition teams who advised each unit and partnered with them in combat operations.”
Hours after his rescue, Wood was still giving thumbs up to the Soldiers who found him hidden under a blanket.
“Mr. Wood had just been freed and given his whole life back, and of the six or seven times that he and I spoke, all he could talk about was that a group of IA Soldiers found him and what a great job they’d done,” said Capt. Randy Green from Bossier City, La. Green, who is with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 156th Armor Regiment, 256th BCT, is the senior advisor to 2-1 IA and was with the Iraqi unit throughout the duration of the mission. “He just couldn’t stop talking about the Iraqi Army and how he couldn’t believe that’s who rescued him.”
Wood was kidnapped in late April by terrorists claiming to be with the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq.
Around 10 a.m. on June 15, the Iraqi Soldiers were preparing to search a house when they saw movement inside. They approached, and after knocking repeatedly on the door, surrounded the house with 10 Soldiers and breached the entrance. Fifteen Soldiers of the 2-1 raced in, attacked by terrorists firing bullets at their heads. However, the terrorists were no match for the IA Soldiers and were ultimately subdued.
When Soldiers questioned them about the figure under the covers in the bed next to them, the terrorists said it was a sick female. Wood later told the U.S. Soldiers that when they were aware of military forces coming into the house, his captors threatened to shoot him if he moved or made a sound.
The terrorists, who claimed they were guards for a 15-man cell, told the Iraqi Soldiers they had previously murdered three other hostages just two weeks earlier, one of whom was a Ministry of Interior general.
During Wood’s rescue, Soldiers also recovered 20 hand grenades and assorted firearms and ammunition.
Extracting Wood from the site was a challenge. The terrorists told Green and IA commanders they called their friends, who were on their way to stop the forces from bringing Wood to safety.
“We set up a perimeter with (U.S. Soldiers) on the outer cordon,” said Green. “If they were going to get to Iraqi Soldiers, they were going to have to get through us first.”
In the end, Wood was transported to the 256th BCT medical facility on Camp Liberty with no further engagements with the terrorists.
Cpl. Ryan Simon from Baton Rouge, La., of C Company, 1-156th AR was at the scene when the IA brought Wood out of the house. He said at first he felt disbelief, followed by utter gratitude for the man’s life.
“When it was radioed in about what was happening, I thought, ‘Yeah, right.’ But when I saw him and saw that this was real, I was just so overwhelmed,” said Simon.
Staff Sgt. Jeremecia Perry from Bossier City, La., of HHC, 1-156th AR, said this event is a definitive sign that the Iraqi Army is headed in the right direction.
“The Iraqi Soldiers are doing great things for their people and getting the bad guys out of their neighborhoods,” he said.
Green agreed that at least one man knows the strength of the Iraqi Army, and testified to it over and over again.
“Mr. Wood had this constant look of disbelief, of joy and elation all at once, and he could not stop talking about the Iraqi Army,” he said.
“This is proof positive of the coverage and competence of the new Iraqi Army,” said Basilica. “They are making excellent progress and have done a super job. This was a great day for the Iraqi Army.”
(Editor’s note: Spc. Erin Robicheaux serves with the 256th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.)
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