POSTED: Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 10:14pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 10:53am
Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan (KTSM) — Soldiers from both 3rd Tolai, 6th Kandak and 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment came to the aid and rescue of a 3-year-old boy who had fallen 30 feet down a well in Maiwand province April 7.
The Afghan soldiers, who were on a standard patrol, were alerted to the fallen child when they passed the ground well and saw a large group of civilians congregating around it. They contacted Courage Company, 1-36 IN BN, with whom they conduct their partnered missions, for assistance.
“That trust between us is already in place, which is good,” said Capt. Matthew Burton, commander of Courage Company.
We have a good working partnership and the Afghan soldiers were aware we had construction equipment which could help get the boy out faster, said Burton.
The well was approximately 20 inches in diameter but decreased as it went further into the ground. The total depth of the well is not known.
The initial plan to extract the child by rope was proving difficult, the child was scared, confused and having a hard time understanding what to do with the lowered rope. As a secondary method the Courage Company quick reaction force soldiers brought out a backhoe to dig vertical hole close to the well and then tunnel into the well to reach the boy.
Once you dig about seven inches down it is like digging through cement, but we did not care, we were going to dig until he was out safe, no matter how many days it took, said Spc. Thomas Wirthlin, an infantryman with Courage Company.
We worked hard together, all of us, Afghan civilians, Afghan Soldiers and my team. Even through the language barrier we knew what to do, said Spc. Nelson Rangel, an infantryman with Courage Company.
After six hours of digging and late into the night the Afghan soldiers pulled the boy out of the well and into the arms of his anxious father. The child was persuaded to grab onto the lowered rope when a Courage soldier, through an interpreter, suggested he put it on his arm like a bracelet. He was examined by an Afghan medic and no injuries were found.
“It was our pleasure to go out and help the locals face to face. It is great getting face time this way instead of just asking questions about the Taliban. We are all the same, we all have young nieces or nephews at home the same age as this kid, so it was great to help,” said Wirthlin.
(All photos by U.S. Army Capt. Jennifer Dyrcz)