CAMP SIMBA, Kenya –
Going out on patrol is not an uncommon occurrence for Task Force Red Dragon Soldiers stationed at Kenya’s Camp Simba. It is a very real part of the mission to help protect and provide security for the area around Manda Bay. The patrols help to build relations with the local populace and deter an ever-present Al-Shabaab threat that exists in the region. For one squad of Red Dragon Soldiers, their patrol happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Soldiers assigned to 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Red Dragon, Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, were conducting an area security patrol May 25, 2022, in Manda Bay, Kenya. After moving about four kilometers on foot and were nearing a large village where they proceeded to talk with one of the local residents. What happened next was something they were not expecting.
“Our route had us headed to a pretty sizable village,” said Staff Sgt. Chandler Potts, a squad leader with B Company. “The brush was pretty thick and it took us quite a while to move through it. We crossed over to the village and began talking with the first local that we came across. Moments later we heard the sound of screeching tires and crunching metal from behind us.”
Potts turned around to see a large cloud of dust emanating from the tree line where his squad had just come from. Looking around at one another, the squad immediately assumed that there had been a vehicle crash.
Staff Sgt. Shawn Powers, the Bravo Co. patrol leader, quickly moved his Soldiers and established a security perimeter until they could ascertain what exactly had happened. Just moments after the accident occurred, while Powers was getting his security established, the blast of a vehicle horn was heard.
“That sound told me that someone was hurt,” Potts said. “Powers was setting in security, so I took off running towards the vehicle, that’s when I saw the truck on its side.”
As Potts approached the vehicle he could see a head sticking out through the passenger window of a truck that faced skyward. The individual was holding his neck while another occupant was at the bottom of the truck on the drivers side; he did not appear conscious. Potts attempted to make verbal contact with the person but received no response.
Potts handed his weapon to Powers and began moving to the opposite side of the vehicle, where he found a third victim, who had been ejected from the vehicle during the crash. This person was responsive but dazed from the ordeal.
“I called for Spc. Montiel, our Combat Life Saver, to start evaluating him,” Potts said. “I climbed on top of the vehicle with Spc. Nicholas, our attached medic, and pulled the first guy out of the vehicle through the passenger window.”
At this point, one individual remained inside the vehicle. The occupant was unresponsive and the team struggled to find a way to get the person out through the passenger window.
“At that point, I took my kit off and climbed down inside the vehicle,” Potts said. “I tried to gain enough leverage to get him out through the passenger window like the other guy, but the cab was too small. So, I decided to try and kick the windshield out. Luckily it came out.”
Powers, along with team leaders, removed what was left of the windshield from the outside and assisted Potts with getting the victim out of the overturned vehicle.
Once freed, the Soldiers were able to evaluate and monitor the stable but unconscious casualty, and they were also able to tend to the two conscious individuals experiencing extreme neck pain.
At this point, a crowd of onlookers from the village had gathered around to witness the scene, including two Kenya Navy personnel. Powers was able to work with them to call an ambulance and monitor the progress of the ambulance's arrival with a Kenyan police officer who recently arrived on the scene.
While waiting for the ambulance, Potts and Powers agreed that for safety considerations they should move the casualties away from the wrecked vehicle. They established a casualty collection point across the road and moved the three injured to a better pick-up location to await the ambulance.
Once the ambulance arrived, Nicholas did a medical hand-off with the doctor that was with the ambulance and they loaded the three casualties for transportation to a nearby care facility. After the casualties had been medically evacuated, the squad continued on with their patrol. They entered the village and greeted the residents, many of whom had watched the incident unfold.
“They were all pretty grateful for us helping and invited us to come back to their village anytime,” Potts said. “It was a good experience to be in the right place at the right time and help out some people in need. The whole squad performed their roles really well. Establishing that security cordon was important. It was an awesome thing to be a part of.”