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Iraqi sacrifices life to save soldiers, others

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POSTED: September 6, 2007 5:03 a.m.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq — An Iraqi man saved the lives of four U.S. soldiers and eight civilians when he intercepted a suicide bomber during a citizens meeting in the town of al-Arafia Aug. 18.    
The incident occurred while soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, were talking with members of the al-Arafia Concerned Citizens, a volunteer community group, at a member’s house.
 “I was about 12 feet away when the bomber came around the corner,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Kane, of Los Altos, Calif., acting platoon sergeant of Troop B, 3-1 Cav. “I was about to engage when he jumped in front of us and intercepted the bomber as he ran toward us. As he pushed him away, the bomb went off.”
The citizen’s actions saved the lives of four U.S. soldiers and eight civilians.
Kane felt the loss personally because he had met and interacted with his rescuer many times before the incident.
“He was high-spirited and really believed what the group (Concerned Citizens) was doing,” Kane said. “I have no doubt the bomber was trying to kill American soldiers. It was very calculated the way the bomber tried to do it. If he hadn’t intercepted him, there is no telling how bad it could have been.”
Kane believes the citizen is a hero.
“He could have run behind us or away from us, but he made the decision to sacrifice himself to protect everyone. Having talked with his father, I was told that even if he would have known the outcome before hand, he wouldn’t have acted differently.”
Capt. Brian Gilbert, of Boise, Idaho, the commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to 3-1 Cavalry, echoed Kane’s sentiment.
“I spoke with the father,” Gilbert said. “He said he has no remorse in his son’s death because he died saving American soldiers.”
Later that night, the Concerned Citizens group contacted the local National Police director, Lt. Col. Samir, with the location of the al-Qaeda cell believed to be responsible for the attack. The National Police immediately conducted a raid that resulted in four arrests.
Despite the citizen’s death, Gilbert is encouraged by the cooperation between citizens and the Iraqi National Police.
“The effort of the Concerned Citizens group has made the area much safer,” he said. “They are proud of who they are and their area, and want to get rid of the terrorist in their area.”
Gilbert also praised the Iraqi National Police’s role in eliminating insurgents in the area.
“The cooperation between them and the Concerned Citizens has been key,” Gilbert said. “The NP has done a great job of responding to the tips they have been given by the group.”
Gilbert said he believes the area is improving because of the efforts of local citizens. The death, while unfortunate, demonstrated how close many in the area have become with the American soldiers operating there.
“I consider many in the town friends, and I know they feel the same,” Gilbert said. “This is a tough situation, but we’ll move on and try to prevent things like this from happening again. I’ve talked with his family and told them how brave their son was. This is a huge loss for everyone involved.”

Hutto is a reporter with the 3rd HBCT Public Affairs.
 

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