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GMC News

Soldier Recalls Attack

Posted on Sat, Jun. 04, 2005

Injured soldier from the 48th recalls attack

By Gray Beverley

Georgia News Service

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – Spc. Bobby Morris had just left a message for his girlfriend that he had safely arrived in Iraq.

Spc. Clyde Miller had wanted to get a phone card at the Camp Liberty post exchange, so that he could get in touch with his brother who is stationed at the camp. The line was too long, so he joined his friend Morris in a gazebo outside the store.

Pfc. Vanessa Harris, who recently became engaged to a fellow soldier in the 48th Brigade Combat Team, had just purchased a jazz CD and some other items for her new home. A brigade welder from Augusta, she is a sophomore at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.

Moments later, Morris remembered, he was on the ground, blood oozing from his left leg.

\”I didn\’t have time to react to nothing,\” said Morris, a 23-year-old brigade fueler from Vidalia. \”All I heard was a big boom, and the blast knocked me to the floor of the gazebo.\”

At about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, a rocket struck the shopping plaza at Camp Liberty, where many of the 48th Brigade\’s soldiers have stocked up on goods since arriving in Iraq this week.

The brigade is staying at Camp Striker, about a 20-minute bus ride from Camp Liberty. Both camps are just outside Baghdad International Airport.

Army officials said Friday that at least 20 people were injured in the attack, a number that includes civilians who were not counted in an earlier tally.

In addition to Morris, Miller and Harris, three soldiers from Illinois-based units in the 48th Brigade were injured in the attack: Sean Broderick, Tracy Colber and Jack Dorset.

First Sgt. Charles Christenbury, one of the leaders of the brigade\’s Dublin-based unit, called Miller, a truck driver in his unit, a \”squared away fellow.\”

Lt. Col. Jeff Edge of Macon, the battalion commander who oversees the Dublin, Forsyth and Hinesville units, said Miller is in good spirits and looking forward to returning to the brigade.

Morris called Miller a laid-back, friendly person who likes \”old school\” music. He said the two had become good friends since the two were mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Morris said what scared him more than the mortar\’s landing about 15 feet away was not being able to help his injured friend.

\”He was just looking at me, telling me to help him. He was hurting so bad,\” Morris said. \”I couldn\’t do it.\”

Miller is \”doing fine\” after receiving shrapnel in the back of his head, brigade spokeswoman 2nd Lt. Selena Owens said Friday. Owens said Miller is recovering at a Baghdad medical facility and is expected to return to duty.

Morris was wounded in his head, arm and leg. He was treated at a Camp Liberty medical facility and released Tuesday. Morris is recovering from his injuries in his tent at Striker.

Harris had a fractured skull and was taken to a military hospital in Germany, where she is listed in stable condition, Owens said.

First Sgt. Bobby Barnes of Harris\’ Hinesville-based unit called her \”bubbly,\” \”funny,\” \”hard-working\” and \”always in a good mood.\”

\”Wish I had 100 more like her,\” Barnes said. \”I know she wants to come back and talks like she wants to, (but) I doubt seriously she\’ll come back.\”

Chaplain Paul Douglas of Dublin said Harris led the choir at his Sunday service and \”sang like an angel.\”

Morris said the badly injured Harris was trying to help him on the way to the hospital.

\”She was hitting me on the leg, telling me to stay awake,\” he said.

Morris said he was shaken by the sound of a mortar attack early Friday at Camp Liberty. He said he has had flashbacks since Tuesday\’s attack and woke up in a cold sweat after his feet got tangled in his sleeping bag while he slept.

But Morris said he is \”amazed\” by the show of support from fellow soldiers, including some he did not know. One offered to take him to a Striker game room Friday.

\”I don\’t know if I want to leave the tent or not,\” Morris said. \”This is like the safest area.\”

To contact Gray Beverley, send an email to gray@ganews.org.