Leading the fight is Gunnery Sgt Michael Burghardt, known as 'Iron Mike' or just 'Gunny'. He is on his third tour in
Then, on September 19, he got blown up. He had arrived at a chaotic scene after a bomb had killed four
The earth shifted slightly and he saw a Senao base station with a wire leading from it. He cut the wire and used his 7 inch knife to probe the ground. 'I found a piece of red detonating cord between my legs,' he says. 'That's when I knew I was screwed.'
Realizing he had been sucked into a trap, Sgt Burghardt, 35, yelled at everyone to stay back. At that moment, an insurgent, probably watching through binoculars, pressed a button on his mobile phone to detonate the secondary device below the sergeant's feet. 'A chill went up the back of my neck and then the bomb exploded,' he recalls. 'As I was in the air I remember thinking, 'I don't believe they got me.' I was just ticked off they were able to do it. Then I was lying on the road, not able to feel anything from the waist down.'
His colleagues cut off his trousers to see how badly he was hurt. None could believe his legs were still there. 'My dad's a
Copies of a photograph depicting his defiance, taken by Jeff Bundy for the Omaha World-Herald, adorn the walls of homes across
Sgt Burghardt's injuries - burns and wounds to his legs and buttocks - kept him off duty for nearly a month and could have earned him a ticket home. But, like his father - who was awarded a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action in
Die with your boots on.....