CAMP SIMBA, Kenya – Going on patrol is not an uncommon occurrence for the soldiers of Task Force Red Dragon stationed at Camp Simba in Kenya. It’s a very real part of the mission to help protect and keep the area around Manda Bay safe. The patrols help build relationships with the local population and deter an ever-present Al-Shabaab threat that exists in the area. For a squad of Red Dragon Soldiers, their patrol was in the right place at the right time.
On Wednesday, May 25, 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company B, 1-116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), conducted a security patrol of area outside Camp Simba, in Manda Bay, Kenya. They had walked about 4 kilometers and were approaching a large village where they got to talking with one of the local residents. What happened next was something they didn’t expect.
“Our route took us to quite a large village,” said Staff Sergeant. Chandler Potts, B Company Squad Leader. “The brush was quite thick and it took us a while to get through it. We walked through the village and started talking with the first local we met. Moments later, we heard the sound of tires screeching and metal crunching behind us.
Potts turned to see a large cloud of dust emanating from the treeline where his squad had just arrived. Looking at each other, the team immediately assumed there had been a vehicle accident.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Powers, B Company’s patrol leader, quickly moved his soldiers around and established a security perimeter until they could determine exactly what had happened. Moments after the crash, as Powers established his safety, a vehicle’s horn sounded.
“That sound told me someone was hurt,” Potts said. “Powers was getting to safety so I ran towards the vehicle, that’s when I saw the truck on its side.”
As Potts approached the vehicle, he could see a head sticking out of the passenger window of a truck that faced the sky. The individual was holding his neck while another occupant was at the bottom of the driver’s side truck; he didn’t seem conscious. Potts attempted to make verbal contact with the person but received no response.
Potts handed his gun to Powers and began moving to the opposite side of the vehicle, where he found a third victim, who had been ejected from the vehicle during the accident. This person was responsive but stunned by the ordeal.
“I called Spc. Montiel, our Combat Life Saver, to start evaluating him,” Potts said. “I got on the vehicle with Spc. Nicholas, our medic attached, and got the first guy out of the vehicle through the passenger window.
At that time, one person remained inside the vehicle. The occupant was unresponsive and the crew struggled to find a way to get the person out of the passenger window.
“At that point, I took off my kit and climbed inside the vehicle,” Potts said. “I tried to get enough leverage to get it out the passenger window like the other guy, but the cabin was too small. So, I decided to try removing the windshield…luckily , he went out.
Powers, as well as Team Leaders, Spc. Decker and SPC. Bakehouse, removed what was left of the exterior windshield and helped Potts pull the victim out of the overturned vehicle.
Once released, Nicholas was able to assess and monitor the stable but unconscious victim. Montiel was able to attend to the two conscious individuals, both of whom were suffering from extreme neck pain.
By this point, a crowd of onlookers from the village had gathered to witness the scene, including two members of the Kenyan Navy. Powers was able to work with them to call an ambulance and follow the progress of the ambulance’s arrival with a Kenyan police officer who had recently arrived on the scene.
While waiting for the ambulance, Potts and Powers agreed that, for safety reasons, they should move the victims away from the crashed vehicle. They established a casualty collection point across the road and moved the three injured to a better collection location to await the ambulance.
Once the ambulance arrived, Nicholas made a medical transfer with the doctor who was with the ambulance and they loaded the three injured people to transport them to a nearby medical facility. After the medical evacuation of the injured, the team continued its patrol. They entered the village and greeted locals, many of whom had seen the incident unfold.
“They were all very grateful for our help and invited us to come back to their village anytime,” Potts said. “It was a good experience to be in the right place at the right time and to help some people in need. The whole team played their part very well. Establishing this security cordon was important. It was a great thing to participate in.