February 16th, 2007 14:34 EST
sniper scare, still serving in Iraq
CAMP LIBERTY " The life of one paratrooper was forever changed Sept. 2, 2006. A 7.62mm round from a sniper`s rifle found its mark and struck the 20 year-old.
Unlike other stories of fallen heroes, the story of Pfc. Andrew Woods continues to unfold. Today the saw gunner carries on despite the life-threatening wound he received just over six months ago " he has made a full recovery.
Now on his second tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Woods is assigned to 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, attached to 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div., which is securing the city streets of Baghdad.
Sept. 2, 2006, is a day he will not soon forget.
One-and-one-half weeks after finishing Airborne School and arriving at his unit, he deployed to Tikrit, Iraq. While there, Woods said he primarily cleared towns in the area outside Tikrit.
During a mission on that day, Woods and his platoon reacted to small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. The platoon pursued two terrorists for more than a mile. Unsuccessful, the platoon retired to their base of operations and Woods assumed his position on the roof to provide security, he said.
I was on the roof for about 20 minutes. I was just standing there and next thing I know I`m laying on the ground, " said the native of Wichita, Kan. I heard one shot. It was pretty loud and I saw it impact the ledge. Next thing I know, I am lying on the ground. "
Although he did not know it at the time, Woods had been shot by a sniper.
The guy fired two shots. The first shot missed and the second shot hit me in the leg. I guess I didn`t get down fast enough. I`m lying on my back and I didn`t know I got shot. It didn`t hurt at all, but I felt this little pinch on my leg. I didn`t think anything of it, so I tried to get up and my whole lower body cramps up. I can`t move at all. "
Confused, Woods checked his leg to ascertain what was causing the pinching sensation, he said.
I calmed down for a second and breathed. I pushed my pants up against my leg, where I felt (the pinch) and I saw blood, so I was like, "OK, I got hit,` " Woods said. They called for a medic and I end up crab walking off of the roof because the medic didn`t want to come up with snipers around. "
Miraculously, with a wound to the thigh, Woods was able to walk downstairs into cover to receive treatment.
Luckily, the round passed through his thigh and out the back of his leg without striking any bone.
I didn`t feel anything for 20 minutes. I could walk, " Woods said. It just felt like someone was pinching me. It didn`t really hurt. Then I guess once my adrenaline died down, that`s when it kicked in and it felt like I got shot. It hurt really bad. Then they gave me morphine, so I was good to go. "
According to Woods, throughout the ordeal, he remained upbeat.
I was cracking jokes, like, "Wow, I`m freaking lucky " I just got shot by a sniper and I`m alive,` " he recalled.
Even with the 7.62mm round through his leg, Woods required no surgery. The wound was sterilized with an alcohol-drenched cotton swab, which followed the trajectory of the round through Woods` leg, he said.
Actually it didn`t hurt because my adrenaline was still up there, " Woods said. Later he received a precautionary Tetanus shot. The wound was bandaged up and he received crutches and physical therapy for three weeks before slowly limping back to duty.
At the time of the incident, Woods` family was unaware he was even in harm`s way, he said.
I was kind of telling white lies to them and that kind of blew a whole in my story, " Woods said. I called my wife and told her I had good news -- that I was OK, but I got shot in the leg. She took it bad, at first, but then she started thinking, "OK, he`s safe now.` "
Six months later, Woods is deployed again and fit for duty, he said.
I`m 100 percent now. "
The only physical evidence Woods was ever attacked by a sniper is an entry and exit scar. He said each of which is approximately the size of a dime. Aside from the scar, Woods also has a new lease on life, thanks to his near-death experience.
I`m alive. That`s the big thing, " Woods said. I was so relieved that I was alive because you don`t hear too much about people getting shot by snipers (and) not having any permanent damage or death. I was just so happy that I was alive and everything was okay. "
Woods hopes that soldiers in harm`s way count their blessings because things could always be worse.
I don`t take things for granted anymore, " said the recipient of the Purple Heart for the wound he suffered on Sept. 2, 2006. I count everything as blessings. I try not to complain about anything because, I think, I could be dead. I`m alive, at least. "
Story and photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar,
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment