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Mark Radwich

U.S. Air Force / Army Commendation Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal

Medic withstood enemy fire while treating two comrades injured in bomb explosion

First came the chatter on the radio: Keep an eye on a suspicious Toyota parked on the opposite side of the road.

Seconds later came the explosion, followed by a fireball.

Staff Sgt. Mark Radwich, a U.S. Air Force medic attached to the 203rd Army Unit, couldn’t see what had gone wrong two vehicles ahead. He was encased in combat armor in the back seat of a Humvee, an M-4 assault rifle between his legs and an Afghan scarf covering his face to fight off the dust.

So he never saw the Toyota shoot across the road and take aim on the lead Humvee in Radwich’s four-vehicle convoy. The soldiers were returning to Camp Clark, their forward operating base, after picking up supplies about six miles away at Camp Salerno in Khost, Afghanistan.

The Humvee’s driver swerved but not in time to avoid the blast triggered by the suicide vehicle.

“We couldn’t even see first two vehicles in convoy,” Radwich said of the ambush on Aug. 13, 2007. “The radios went out except in our vehicle. Nobody could really hear what was going on outside. So we stopped.”

Procedure called for first checking the area for explosives or other forms of attack, but Radwich was in a hurry to grab his medical bag.

“I was preparing and basically telling them I got to go,” Radwich said. “They finally gave me permission.”

Once outside, all Radwich could see was smoke as he and another medic jogged to the spot where the first vehicle careened down a 15-foot embankment into the riverbed.

About 50 meters of open terrain separated them from the Humvee.

“Take it nice and easy,” the Army medic, a combat veteran, said, putting his hand on Radwich’s shoulder. But as they reached the edge of the embankment, someone yelled, “Incoming fire.”

“We heard some rounds go up over our heads, and a light jog turned into a very, very fast run,” Radwich said.

At the bottom, three soldiers in the Humvee already were out of the vehicle in a defensive position, firing rounds at insurgents who wanted to clean up what the suicide bomber had left unfinished.

In the middle of the firefight, Radwich helped treat the gunner from the blasted vehicle who had suffered burns to his face and was in shock. He treated a second soldier for a concussion and an injured ankle.

Radwich also got off some rounds of his own and later helped hold an insurgent hostage after the shooting stopped.

Radwich says his unit’s training and teamwork led to surviving the ambush. That training also brought out something else in him – a sense of duty.

“I needed to go help. I wanted to help,” Radwich said. “I needed to figure out what happened. There were two guys that I was with. … I just needed to get my eyes on them and make sure they were OK.”

It wasn’t until it was all over that Radwich could hear his heart pounding in his ears.

Radwich terms the event “very, very small” in the grand scheme of things, saving his praise for members of the 203rd:

“At the very end (of his tour of duty), we lost a significant amount of people in such a very, very short time. I wish I could say that it was all good, but those parts at the end were not good.”

Tom Lindley is editor of Oklahoma Watch, an investigative reporting team.

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Radwich-in-Humvie

Air Force medic Mark Radwich said the 2007 incident in Afghanistan brought out his sense of duty. "I needed to go help. I wanted to help," Radwich said. "I needed to figure out what happened." (Photo courtesy of Mark Radwich)

  • Radwich-in-Humvie
  • Radwich-at-Scene-of-the-VBIED-hit-Humvie
  • Radwich-in-Gunner-Turret
 
 

Mark Radwich

U.S. Air Force / Army Commendation Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal

Born Aug. 7, 1980, in Lawrence, Mass.

Wife Meghan; two children.

Joined the Air Force on Jan. 5, 2000; deployed to Afghanistan on July 27, 2007. Served on a Brigade Support Team attached to the 203rd Army Unit in Khost, Afghanistan, where he was the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Troop Medical Clinic at Camp Clark. Has served three tours of duty overseas, one each to Afghanistan, Oman and Kurdistan.

WHAT HE DID
Under fire in the midst of an attack on his convoy, he treated two comrades injured by a roadside car bomb.

WHERE HE IS NOW
Radwich serves as an Aerospace Medical Technician for the 66th Medical Group at Hanscom AFB near Boston.

WHY HE JOINED THE AIR FORCE
“I very much wanted to join the military somehow since I was a kid.”


Afghanistan / Khost

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