Spc. Seth Danylko and Staff Sgt. Joshua Sands, 1st Squadron/4th Cavalry, left Fort Riley, KS in February for their first combat tour. On 24 May 2007 an IED exploded, resulting in the capture of a suspect. The next day, a seven-man reconnaissance team was tasked with conducting a foot patrol in the Dora District of Baghdad, Iraq, going door-to-door and looking for witnesses.
Sands said, “The day we went out, I didn’t feel good about going out and neither did Seth [Danylko]. Mostly because we were on foot.” Sands led the patrol to an intersection while other soldiers stopped at a door. “I was standing in the middle of the road and there was an open area between the two roads. I thought to myself that this wasn’t a good place to stand,” Sands said. As he turned to step back, an IED detonated.
The first sergeant began shouting directions as soldiers returned fire. Sands recovered. He suspected that the device was detonated when the insurgent saw him turn to leave, “I guess they figured that was the closest any of us was going to get,” he said. Once he began to walk, his leg felt asleep. Looking down, blood was running down his arm and leg before his injuries registered. “…I saw the look on the face of the soldier who opened up my uniform. I just told him to bandage me up and let’s go,” said Sands. One hundred staples and 20 stitches were required to mend two wounds. “The thought of dying never really crossed my mind.”
Just 35 feet from the remotely detonated anti-personnel/anti-tank mine was Spc. Seth Danylko, a gunner for the patrol. Knocked down, Danylko took the blast and hot shrapnel with his face and right arm. Issued a set of Revision Sawfly military eyewear, he was glad that day to have been in the habit of wearing them on every patrol. In an interview with TW, he reported, “I wore them everyday, whether I wanted to or not. If I hadn’t been wearing them, shrapnel would have taken my vision.”
Cleared after eight months of rehabilitation, both Sands and Danylko have returned to duty. “I would go back,” says Danylko. “This is what I signed up to do.”
— TW Staff Report