Wednesday, August 10, 2011

As told by Derek's Squad Leader

Derek's Squad Leader adds his side of the story:

Marcus Love
  • hey kristina,
    I am dereks squadleader and i was shoulder to shoulder with him when he got injured. i was trying to contact his mother but couldnt find her on fb. i just wanted to let you guys know i am deeply sorry for what happened and ill answer any questions you may have about what happened. thank you.
02 August - Krystina McConnell
We had a brief understanding of what happened but if you'd like to tell me what happened from what you saw I'd appreciate it.

02 August - Marcus Love
 well just a little background on how derek ended up in my squad. we had so few guys in our platoon that they split one of the squads up between my squad and another squad. well as soon as we even started talking about doing this there were harsh words exchanged about who would get derek. i wanted him just as bad as the other squadleader. i was the lucky one and derek came to my squad. He fit right in our squad and i was sooo happy to get him. hes a little pack mule ill tell you that lol.   im sure you know about our mission and everything that day so i wont get into that. basically our plt was split into two elements and our northern element hit an ied not to far from us (we were the southern element). my squad was - one point from front was my teamleader sgt wiger, then derek, then myself. we moved to the northern elements position and had to secure an HLZ (helecopter landing zone) for the wounded soldier. without orders or guidance derek positioned himself in an outstanding spot to cover the HLZ. I stopped for a second and said to myself (man, i lucked out on getting McConnel). he just had this situational awareness that was unparrelled. he knew what was going on and he knew his rold in the fight. He made my job extremely easy. Well we got the wounded soldier on the helo. just then someone else stepped on another ied. luckily only the blasting cap went off and just scared everyone more than anything. the enginneers attached to us then began to sweep our area for ieds and found three more. derek was extremely close to them but he was unshaken. even when we were told about how many and where they were he didnt flich. well it was time to pick up and move and my squad took point as usual. again the order was my teamleader sgt wiger, then derek then myself. we came to an open field and i placed in our gun team to overwatch sgt wiger, derek and myself cross the openfield to set in security for the rest of the guys to cross. derek was about 20m in front of me when he stepped on an ied. i ran to his location and he was on the ground looking up at me smiling. i thought to myself (crazy bastard! lol) i asked him if he was ok and he said he was fine. i asked if he could keep going and he looked at me like i was stupid and said "yea sgt im fine, lets go" well after the earlier events i was worried about other ieds around the area so i told him to stay where he was as sgt wiger and myself searched the area for other ieds. we searched all around him in about a 15m radius. nothing. i took a knee shoulder to shoulder with him and told our LT we were good to move. me and derek stood up, he took one step to his right/front and stepped on another one. next thing i remember was being in a field approximately 15-20m away from where the blast happened. i couldnt hear anything but i saw the medic running towards me and i told him to go to derek bcuz i knew he was worse. When i finally shook the cobwebs off i ran and assissted in firstaid of derek. One last thing that stuck out in my mind was when myself the medic and sgt wigir were applying first aid, we were all talking to derek, just reassuring him and i told derek to "spit that f****** blood out of his mouth" and he did. he was barely awake but still fighting. A true warrior. He absolutely amazed me. The helo came amazing fast and we got derek on it and he was off. last time i saw derek was at the hospital here in KAF. I saw him off to germany and i hope he heard me as he was still unconcious.. I know this wont change anything, but id figured you want to know as much as possible about what happend. I am truly sorry about what happened and i take resposibility as his leader for this. I will probably never forgive myself. This is extremely hard to write but true none the less and i would have loved to tell you this in person. and If i get the chance i will.

I do not blame Marcus or any of the brave men who were with Derek that day.

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