U.S. Army Reserve / Bronze Star with Valor
Despite having been shot, he coordinated his fellow soldiers’ escape after an enemy attack
The first he saw of the enemy were the muzzle flashes.
More than a hundred insurgents were peppering the Humvee ahead of Staff Sgt. Jamyn Peterson as soldiers spilled out of the disabled truck and staggered around in a daze. The turret gunner had been hit, mortally wounded by an 82mm shell that plowed into the truck from only 30 yards away.
The convoy — five Humvees and several Afghan police trucks — was headed back from a combat mission in the mountains of southern Afghanistan on June 16, 2007, when the lead truck suddenly came under attack and crashed into a boulder.
His Humvee pulled up behind the truck and was soon under fire itself, Peterson recalled: “The bullets were pinging and popping off the armor.”
Peterson had up-armored the Humvee but had little time to take pride in the fact that the rocket-propelled grenades fired at it were glancing off the steel plating.
His crew needed to rescue the gunner and get the wounded soldiers into Peterson’s Humvee, but that would require covering fire.
“I knew that I had to leave the truck and set up my M240,” he said. “If I didn’t get out, they were going to die. I was also convinced that if I did get out, I was going to die. I was pretty much resigned to that possibility.”
Peterson was shot through the thigh as he exited the Humvee. He hobbled across to the disabled vehicle and set up the M240 machine gun on the hood of the truck. He had 2,000 rounds linked to his belt.
Holding the trigger down, he fired the gun until the barrel was melting and he was out of ammunition. Peterson soon came under heavy fire, and as he leaned on the hood, an RPG bore through a tire and into the engine block beneath him.
“For some very fortunate reason,” Peterson said, “it never blew.”
Another soldier took his position, allowing Peterson to direct his attention to the wounded and removing sensitive weapons and equipment from the disabled truck.
“We managed to get the turret gunner on a stretcher, but he knew he wasn’t going to make it.” Peterson said. “He wanted to know who was on his gun, and he asked that a message be given to his family.”
He was soon evacuated, and the soldiers from the disabled truck were loaded into Peterson’s Humvee. “It was meant to hold five soldiers, so we were in pretty close quarters with 10 men … plus a bomb dog.”
Meanwhile, air support from French F15s had been called in, and the insurgents came under a devastating attack.
“You can imagine what it was like with bombs exploding 90 feet away, dirt being thrown up everywhere and the ground shaking,” Peterson related with some amusement. “We got out of there as soon as we could.”
Peterson downplayed his injury and the lives he saved.
“I had set up a medical clinic in the village where my unit was deployed and learned how to treat certain wounds,” he said. “The bullet went through my thigh, so I was able to clean and bandage the gunshot myself.
“Whatever I may have done, credit belongs to the Afghan police as well. When the rest of the convoy reached us, the Afghans pulled ahead of the disabled Humvee in their unarmored truck. They got hit hard, and two were killed. They definitely helped buy us time to remove our men from the kill zone.”
Wesley Millett is a freelance writer and author of the military nonfiction book, “The Rebel and the Rose,” about the final days of the Confederate government.
U.S. Army Reserve / Bronze Star with Valor
Born March 3, 1977, in New Richmond, Wis., where he still lives.
Married to Elizabeth.
Joined the Army on Dec. 12, 1994. Deployed to Iraq from February to October 2003 and to Afghanistan from December 2007 to March 2008.
Was assigned as a Team Leader for Psychological Operations to A Company, 13th Psychological Operations Battalion, in direct support of Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan at Firebase Anaconda, Oruzgan province.
WHAT HE DID
Although shot through the thigh, he provided covering fire and evacuated soldiers wounded in an attack on his convoy.
WHERE HE IS NOW
Still assigned to 13th Psychological Operations Battalion, he is a member of the Army Reserve stationed in Arden Hills, Mich.
WHY HE JOINED THE ARMY
“The reason I joined was because of what had happened in Somalia in 1993. I saw our soldiers being dragged through the streets, and it got me all fired up.”
Afghanistan / Khas Uruzgan