U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Erin Liberty (from Niceville, Florida), an ammunition technician with Ammunition Company, 2nd Supply Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, sustained several injuries when an improvised explosive device blew up near her convoy near Camp Fallujah, Iraq, June 23.
Purple Heart Recipient Describes Attack
By Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker
2nd Force Service Support Group
...Sitting in the second to last seat in the back, on the right side of the tru...She remembers talking with the female Seabee next to her, when a series of combined explosions violently lifted the truck from both sides.
“When it blew up, we all flew back and then forward again in our seats,” said Liberty. “I looked at the girl next to me and saw her bounce up and down in the flames. I just closed my eyes and waited for it to end. I felt myself being thrown in the air, but my eyes remained shut. When I impacted the ground, I realized nothing hurt. I felt everything that was happening, but it was like there was a bubble around me, because when I hit the ground and woke up, I felt no pain. I looked at my hands and saw the skin hanging off my left pinky finger, but it still didn't hurt. Not then.”
On the ground and covered in dust, she knew it was an improvised explosive device. Later, Liberty said she learned it was constructed of five, 155-millimeter incendiary rounds and a few propane tanks. They had gone off about six feet from each side of the truck.
Trying to recover from the concussion and the ringing in her ears, she looked over and saw the Seabee she had spoken too just seconds before the blast.
“She was lying next to me, unconscious,” Liberty added. “I tried to pull her away from ground zero, but there was a firefight happening at the same time, so a few guys pulled me off and threw me against the wall. I wanted to go back for her, but the way the truck was positioned, it rolled over on top of her before I could.”
After the firefight died down and the injured Marines and sailors were recovered, they loaded onto another vehicle and headed straight for the Battalion Aid Station at Camp Fallujah, said Liberty.
“We then just jumped on another seven-ton and drove away,” Liberty said. “We all just sat there in silence, except for the sounds of discomfort and pain. I can still see the people with their skin hanging off of them. I remember seeing this girl with blood all over her flak jacket and the skin on her fingers falling off. Then, suddenly the silence broke, when a girl in the back of the truck started singing, Amazing Grace. I remember praying to God, and thanking Him that I was alive.”...
Lance Corporal Liberty was one of the last to be brought into the CSH. Her second and third degree burns were treated and she was thought to be stable when doctors discovered that she had a vertebrae injury. She returned to the states for medical treatment, and she was recently awarded the Purple Heart.
...“It was extremely hard to accept, knowing all the people that had died,” said Liberty [about receiving the Purple Heart]. “It's nothing you can train or practice for, and you always receive it under the worst circumstances.”
Liberty will undergo surgery in Florida next month, where they will put a metal plate between her C4 and C5 vertebraes in an attempt to stabilize the break.
In light of the life-altering events she's been through, she's still moving forward in her life. Liberty married on Sept. 19, after getting engaged right before she left for Iraq in February.
“It's been a rough engagement,” Liberty said, with a light, but respectful chuckle.
Liberty said, that even though it has been almost four months since the incident, she still has thoughts of that day.
“I wonder what would have happened if those guys wouldn't have pulled me away from the truck,” she added. “I imagine what would have happened if I had the strength to pull her away. I'm sure that will always stay with me. Honestly, my mind and my heart hurt way more than my body ever will.”