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LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan - As the last vehicle as part of Route Clearing Package-39 made it over a culvert on a mission destined for Combat Outpost Charkh, an improvised explosive device detonated, sending steel, tires and bolts flying hundreds of yards from the site. But the Soldiers of this team were left unharmed, thanks to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected RG-32 vehicle and teamwork.
Comprised of combat engineer Soldiers and explosive ordnance Airmen from Task Force Saber, RCP-39 reacted without delay when a 150-pound IED exploded, tearing into their MRAP.
Reacting true to its design, the MRAP was damaged but it absorbed the shock from the blast and protected the servicemembers inside.
The MRAP RG-32 Mark V Echo was a crucial element in saving lives and reducing the extent of injuries that day, according to the RCP-39 team.
“The MRAP RG-32 Mark V Echo is one of our sturdiest vehicles out here,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Talar, a vehicle operator, from Medford, N.C.
But in addition to the armoured vehicle’s protection, teamwork also played a major role in the safety of RCP-39 that day after the explosion.
As part of an EOD team, U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Steve Hager, out of Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., was among the first on scene to jump into the fight.
“As Airmen here with this team, we simply magnify the Soldiers’ capabilities out here, augmenting their team,” said Hager, a native of Tuscon, Ariz. The Airmen EOD team performed diagnostics to look for trace evidence to locate the insurgents who planted the ordnance.
The Soldiers’ quick thinking and reaction forced a speedy evacuation from the damaged MRAP. They also pulled any sensitive items or personal gear from the vehicle so that nothing is left behind for the insurgents, said Talar
Security was the main concern for the team, as they were not completely out of danger.
“We got all our 360-degree security out there, out front; we managed to get our EOD pulling up the command wire,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Paul Talar, a vehicle commander, who hails from Medford, N.C. “Our Medic and combat lifesaver Soldiers were in place, treating and testing our Soldiers and civilian in the vehicle that was hit. Thankfully, they were just shaken up and will walk away with some minor bumps and bruises.”
During a sweep of the area, the team found food items showing the possible location of the triggerman and was able to compile some evidence, deemed helpful, according to RCP-39 team members.
“We found motorcycle tracks right away. They knew not to stick around,” the combat engineers team said with confidence.
The unit performed without a hitch. They did their jobs and managed to come together seamlessly in the midst of being in harm’s way.
“Our noncommissioned officers and Soldiers performed like clockwork, securing the area, and they handled it like the professionals they are.” said Talar. “I will tell you, I was very proud of how my team came together and took care of business.”
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