Big Foot graduate ignores injury, saves lives
September 07, 2011 | 08:15 AMKHOWST PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN — For U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chris Ackley, a civil affairs specialist with the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team, helping others is starting to become a trend.
The Sharon native and 2001 Big Foot High School graduate provided medical care to soldiers and a civilian after sustaining injuries from a grenade during a mission in the Sabari District, Aug. 15.
This is the second event in which he used his medical skills to aid others. On July 6 he helped save an Afghan woman's life after she suffered a gunshot wound.
"I was at the right place at the wrong time," Ackley said.
The mission that afternoon for Ackley and Khowst PRT CA officer-in-charge U.S. Army 1st Lt. Andrew Docksey, of West Bend, was to conduct engagements with village elders and citizens of Majies Village.
Soldiers from 1st Platoon, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, and the Afghan National Army, pushed out at 2:30 p.m. to carry out their task.
After more than three hours of engaging the locals, the troops returned to their vehicles for the ride back to their headquarters, Combat Outpost Sabari. However, before they reached the vehicles, two grenades were lobbed over a nearby wall, one bouncing off the radio telephone operator's back and the other landing 20 feet from Ackley.
The team scattered and took up defensive positions.
After the grenades exploded, the team started to take small arms fire from an unseen enemy.
During the fire fight, Ackley said he was struck by shrapnel. Ignoring the pain, he aided the team in securing the area, enabling the wounded to find cover in a nearby house.
"The (infantry) training many of us had gone through really came into play," said Docksey. "We knew to move right away and what to do when recovering."
Once they secured their defensive perimeter, Ackley jumped in to help the combat medic in treating the wounded, which included two soldiers and a civilian reporter.
One of the soldiers had shrapnel wounds all over his back, chest, legs and feet, according to Ackley.
"He got the brunt of the blast from the grenade," Ackley said.
The attackers fled into the hills after the attack.
After taking stock of the situation, he decided to convoy back to COP Sabari and receive medical treatment there. After initial assessment and treatment, Ackley was airlifted to a facility able to provide a higher level of care.
"I pretty much got stripped naked and thrown onto the bird (helicopter) with an emergency blanket so my butt was to the wind," he said.
Ackley said he never thought twice to provide aid while ignoring his own medical needs.
"I did my job as a medic," he said. "I could still walk although it hurt to bend down and move; other people needed (medical) attention, I was capable of helping the doc out so I did."
Docksey was especially impressed with Ackley's actions.
"What Sergeant Ackely did to ignore his own wounds to help others showed he was focused on helping the other guys," he said. "He kept doing what he could do to help out; not focusing on his pain till everybody else had been helped."
This article was submitted by U.S. Air Force Capt. David Tomiyama of the Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team Public Affairs office.