After completing a seven day mission, a bomb-hunting patrol rolls into Kandahar air base in a cloud of billowing dust.
Among the road-weary American troops peeling off body armor and sweaty helmets is a 21-year-old soldier from New Jersey named Alan Carroll.
He hops out of the turret of an armored vehicle carrying a heavy 50-caliber machine gun, and then begins loading flak jackets and rucksacks into the back of an open truck.
The young man moves with speed, strength and enthusiasm, something you wouldn’t expect from someone who survived four bullet wounds in a single day less than a year ago.
“I’m trying this year not to go to hospitals,” Spc. Carroll says, while cleaning his guns back at his tent later in the day.
Carroll wasn't wounded on the battlefields of Afghanistan. He survived the November 5 shooting rampage at the U.S. military base in Fort Hood, Texas.
A lone gunman opened fire in a processing center, where troops were getting medical clearance before deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq.
Alan Carroll returned to combat in Afghanistan three months after he was shot at Fort Hood last year
“At first I really thought it was a joke,” Carroll recalls. “Then I got hit here,” he says, pointing at his left arm, “and I was like, 'Holy crap! What the hell was that?' I still couldn’t believe it was actual live rounds.”
The room filled with smoke. Carroll says he tried to carry Pfc. Aaron Nemelka, a friend and fellow soldier who had been shot in the neck, out to safety.
“That’s when he shot me in the back,” Carroll says. “I was holding my back and trying not to scream and playing dead at the same time.”
Several agonizing moments later, Carroll made another attempt to carry his friend out of the blood-soaked room. That is when he came face-to-face with the suspected shooter, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hassan.
“Me and him just looked at each other,” Carroll says. “And the only thing I could think is ... ‘Dammit, I’m dead,’” Carroll says. “And he fired off two shots, and I heard one go past my ear and the other one hit me in the leg. Dropped me back down on the floor.”
When the smoke finally cleared, 13 people were dead, including Nemelka and two other soldiers from Carroll’s company. Carroll was one of at least 20 who were wounded.
Later, as he recovered in the hospital, friends and family say Carroll’s first priority was Afghanistan.
“His first question was, ‘Is this going to stop me from deployment?’” says Sgt. 1st Class Gerald “Woody” Wilson, one of the commanders of Carroll’s platoon.
“My mom’s sitting there and begging me to take [medical discharge], my brother’s begging me to take it,” Carroll recalls. “I said I’m not taking medical discharge. I’m deploying.”
Three months later, Carroll arrived in Afghanistan along with the rest of his unit with a clean bill of health.
“He did physical therapy,” Wilson says. “He was worried about staying behind.”
Carroll’s mother, Teresa Scholte, describes her son growing up as an “adrenaline junkie” with a “bull-headed” determination to succeed.
“When he was in school he was short and very thin,” says Scholte, who works as a receptionist in New Jersey. “That is what led him to take on this personality of ‘nobody’s going to mess with me and tell me what to do.’”
Today, the 20th Engineering Battalion operates in southern Afghanistan hunting for roadside bombs, the deadliest threat to U.S. troops in this country.
According to the commander’s statistics, since February 2, the battalion has had a 66 percent success rate in clearing the bombs. Slow-moving convoys of heavily armored vehicles have successfully discovered and defused 209 improvised explosive devices, but they have also been hit by no less then 129 roadside bombs. In eight months, 13 combat engineers have been killed by Taliban ambushes and explosive booby traps.
Photos of three soldiers killed in the November 5, 2009, Fort Hood shooting decorate the entrance of their company headquarters in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Route clearance is dangerous work. And for the first six months of the tour, Carroll has been at the very front driving a Husky: the one-man, bomb-sniffing armored vehicle that one sergeant nick-named “the Coffin.”
“It’s the worst job,” Wilson says. “One, you’re by yourself. Two, you’re in the lead. And three, you’re usually the one who gets hit first. You’ve gotta be brave to drive the Husky.”
All but one of the vehicles in Wilson’s platoon have struck IEDs, including Carroll’s Husky.
“I had one hit underneath my truck. But it really wasn't that significant. Still scared the crap outta me,” Carroll says. He emerged from the explosion unscathed.
But last August, tragedy struck Carroll’s platoon when an insurgent fired a single round from a recoilless rifle at the turret of Wilson’s vehicle.
The attack killed the gunner, Spc Alexis Maldenado. Today, members of Maldenado’s company wear an engraved bracelet with their slain comrade’s name on it.
“It was probably the worst day of my life, the day he passed away,” Carroll says.
Meanwhile, the memory of the Fort Hood shooting is never far away. The portraits of three soldiers killed at Fort Hood hang in the entrance of Carroll’s company headquarters.
Soldiers from the 20th Engineering Battalion have received hours of counseling and therapy since the Fort Hood shooting. Their officers say they keep a close eye on the troops in the wake of more recent casualties.
But the true test of the combat engineers' emotional and mental health will come after their tour is finished, warns Lt. David Judson, one of the officers in the company. That's when they'll be back in the United States without the support of their fellow comrades-in-arms.
Like many of his fellow soldiers, Carroll was in 7th grade on the day the planes struck the World Trade Center. Nine years ago, he says he was waiting for the school bus when he learned about the September 11 terror attacks.
A lot has changed since then. Carroll is still relatively short, carrying weapons that sometimes seem almost as tall as he is. But he also has the bulging muscles of a man who spends long hours in the gym. And he has the enduring respect of his colleagues and superiors, some of whom have nicknamed him “National Treasure.”
“I wish I had more Carrolls,” says Wilson, Carroll's platoon sergeant.
Teresa Scholte, however, is worried about her son’s long term recovery from the Fort Hood shootings.
“That is weighing on me more then him being over there in Afghanistan,” she said in a telephone interview with CNN. “I feel like he’s more protected in Afghanistan because of the armor he has.”
“The only time it gets to me is when I’m alone and it's dark outside,” says Carroll.
“I get nightmares,” he adds. “But I’m used to it by now … I wake up, look around, see all my friends here and say ‘Nevermind, it's not real, go back to sleep.'”
After their seven-day mission, Carroll and two other soldiers laugh and joke about girls, as they scarf down pizza, much like other American men in their early twenties.
But the trio is navigating the sprawling military city at Kandahar Air Field, dressed in combat fatigues, with machine guns slung over their shoulders.
Barely old enough to drink alcohol legally, these young soldiers are already veterans of battles both at home and abroad.
They have the physical and mental scars to prove it.
Dankie vir die interessante inligting
Frederic March and Ronald Reagan said it best...
– Where do we get such men?
Thank you, Carroll, for trying to save my cousin. I know no other way to contact you and say thank you.
All of you are missing the point of this CNN story. Alan Carroll, if he's lucky enough to survive in the war zone, still has to overcome any PTSD he'll aquire. Reference the PBS Frontline story about the "Wounded Platoon". Sad to see so many young men like Alan ending up in prison after they returned from the war zone.
what a a shame to see such ignorance and segragation, no matter what anyone thinks our troops are brave and should be respected for their sacrifices and continued efforts everyday. God Bless our Troops and those that ARE SO BLIND...FORGIVE THEM BEING SO FOOLISH!
Good for you buddy!
A true American hero and role model. Tenacity, dedication, and patriotism will get you a lot of respect.
God bless you and your family.
t was me all along. I just twisted things around.
I have never read so many idiotic statements as I have here. Many of you have nooo idea what is going on. lol !!!
I am so proud of you guys. I can't wait till you guys get back Home!!! Please take care of my Husband ;) which I know you will :) I pray for you guys each and every night I am really thankful for what you guys do for us. *HUGS* God bless each and everyone of you!!! Soon you guys will be back where you guys belong "HOME" :)))
this guy is out of the frying pan and into the fire...of course he's in the Army. hope mr. hurt locker in this news story gets home safe!
Thank you, Spc. Carroll.. To you and your company: keep your heads down and your spirits up! I'll be heading into basic before the month is out, hope to join you guys soon.. Hooah!
One thing as the nights passed in Vietnam and I new and felt the next day might be my last. I prayed every night and I asked god if it is my time please don't let it hurt to bad and ur will be done. My dear brother u have made ur mark on this world. We love u dearly. Just a thought to carry u. Think about coming home and having a son to carry ur name. I did and had one child and it was a boy. And now I have two grand babies both boys. Be strong and remember there is no John wayne any more. I am so proud of u.
I am so proud of u. God bless my son my fellow vet. I am going to pray for u tonight. I don't even know u but I am u, Vietnam vet.
That young man makes me proud to be an American!
god bless him, as an Arabic translator i was with U.S army and Marines in both fallujah and baghdad, i know what the men and women of our armed forces are going through and the sacrifices they make and made are priceless, many people read these articles and god bless but for those who lived through it are only the ones that will learn to appreciate them the most, wish him and the rest of the troops the best and a safe return home to his family.
"Today, the 20th Engineering Battalion operates in southern Afghanistan hunting for roadside bombs, the deadliest threat to U.S. troops in this country."
The biggest threat to our country? Wait a minute. Isn't the government keeping this 'fake war' going for their oil interest? Then wouldn't it be the greatest asset? Someone catch me up, I don't follow the news anymore.
Some people, when you look at all they have done, make you feel so inadequate as a human being. I am glad we have men like this representing this country.
Alan Carroll, 21 went to Afghanistan and is manning a 50 caliber machine gun to protect her right to live. Does the Pope have and issue with the first IVF baby Louise Brown's right to live? He can talk to Alan.
So what DID happen to the Ft. Hood shooter? Is he still paralyzed? Did he die? Has he been tried for his actions? What happened to his patients?
The Ft.Hood shooter got the worst punishment imaginable,being left paralyzed from the waist down.Wherever he is,there is nothing they can do to hurt him worse than he already is.
It's a shame our boys are over there dying for some of u idiots, take your religious views over there, and watch them fill u full of bullet holes. GOD BLESS AMERICA and MOST of her people.
Please disregard whether we should have been in iraq or afghanistan this long and this hard or even at all. There're plenty of places to voice your overall concerns about the war. Here, please respect this man. He's doing what he feels is a good thing for the country and is also fighting for the lives already lost. Put yourself in his shoes. If I had friends over there dying for that cause, I couldn't peacefully sit in safety here at home without feeling shameful. Admit it, you yourselves would be over there too fighting not just for your country but for your fellow soldiers. It's a bloody nightmare, and here at home it's a mental nightmare. But for just this moment, lets send the soldiers and people of this earth a kind get well message and hope that peace can somehow win the hearts and minds of this world.
It's too bad that the right-wing people in the news media didn't feel that way about the Russians over there back in the 1980's. I'm finding less and less credibility with the right-wing media for both lambasting the Russians and touting the NATO forces as heros which neither case is exactly true.
Stay save Trooper......................God Bless you.
I am so sick of coming on here and having to read all the crap some of u idiots post, u try and make this some soapbox for YOUR opinion and most of the time it does not have anything to do with what your posting on, nobody wants your religious point of view or anything to do with that, u wanna talk, go to god.com or somewhere that someone might give a crap, until then keep your religious BS to yourself. This story is about human tragedy being overcome and some of u IDIOTS wanna push your religious views on us..Screw u. Join the Taliba, maybe they will wanna hear it.
And I'm sick and tired of all this sickening bravado about what a "wonderful" job we're doing over there where we have absolutely no right to be in the first place!!!
Neither did the Soviets (yes, it's SOVIETS, not Russians), but then you always seem to have a hard-on for communism and conveinantly forget to mention they were there longer than us, and only pulled out because the Soviet Union was falling apart.
You are braver than most men your age. Stay safe.
Or does he just have a taste for killing? Anyway,he's over there fighting for MIC in this country and helping right-wing politicians get elected to office.Too much warmongering going on either way and it should stop!
You're right. We should pull NATO troops out of Afghanistan. This will create a vacuum that will pull in more extremists looking to train up to be glorious homicide bombers and terrorists. When the mountains are nice and full of these idiots we just fly a few B1B's over there and turn the entire country into a giant glass parking lot. No more war mongering, not more needless deaths of NATO troops AND no more terrorists in Afghanistan. Problems solved times 3 !!
What, this sounds ridiculous? Of course it does, but so does all of the negative and snarky BS on this page!
"....A lone gunman...." There goes CNN again, pandering to the fringe and trying to be PC. The fact is the "gunman," was radical, Muslim extremist....
And you really believe this?
Amazing! Thank you very much for your bravery and service.
OK...I'm thinking this means that there's no escape route...once you are in, you're in...no matter what. These people are WAY TOO YOUNG to be in wars. Get them out of there! First of all, men were not born to be soldiers. They are human, with emotions. Yes, they cry. No, they are NOT disposable. This is dumb. Let's get these kids out of there. NO MORE WARS!!! Use all of that money to figure out how to get us off of oil. We're smarter than this.
My brother and all his male friends only wanted to play "war", "cops and robbers", "cowboys and indians" and generally sneak around in cammo with water pistols while growing up. When he was 19, he enlisted in the Reserves along with his university (all male) chums. I think boys are indeed born to be soldiers and rapidly find out what that means after completing basic training. The armed forces generally turns boys into functional adults and if some of them get hurt along the way after informed consent, so be it. My brother finally got his head out of his azz after his training and we're all better off. Way better than joining a gang and sneaking around killing people over drugs, etc.. Oh, and there's that peace mission benefit too that also goes along with unfortunate civilian casualties. Nothing is perfect but we keep working until it comes closer.
There has been war since the beginning of time!
There were wars in the heavens between spiritual beings; there are wars on the earth, not only between human being but animals, insect, etc; there are wars in the sea and under the earth.
Hello! This is not some new concept.
There is the Army of the Lord just waiting, as we speak:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” Revelation 19:11-14
Well quoted...doesnt that verse just send chills down your spine...makes me feel glorious for the fact that one day we might be so lucky to be in that army. The army of heaven. The army of God...now that deserves a HOOORAH
May the Lord Bless him and bring him and the rest of the Soldiers safely back home to their families!!
This article and video is about Spc Alan Carroll and what the 20th Engineering Unit is doing in Afghanistan- let's make it about that and not about politics and personal sound offs or your soap box. The entire unit deserves a great deal of respect. My husband, Mike Cahill, was killed in the Ft Hood Shooting and all of the wounded, and all of the families need a great deal of support. Find a way to support the soldiers (USO, pkgs, phone cards, and many more) and support them when they get home. Alan and all his comrades are doing a terrific job – they don't need your B-sh–. thank you.
OUTSTANDING, we have a bunch of dirty terrorist supporters playing armchair warfare thinking they know what is best for the world. When a country full of people proves that they can't control itself and rather export their evil terroristic ways to the rest of the world, they need to be invaded and rebuilt. AND so everyone understands, this is a NATO led operation, not just the United States. Of I forgot, terrorist and terrorist supporters are ignorant and make up things to make themselves feel better to support their own warped opinions.
Good luck...hope you come home from that hell-hole safely. What a ridiculously messed up region of the world, with a mission that is clouded by misjudgment, contradiction and outright lies/deceit. It's not WWII anymore. Our motivations are no longer justly substantiated. We're now fighting a war that is in reality, being fought in the hearts of every human being on this planet. The real war will never be won in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.
America has no business in Afghanistan. The bloodshed will continue as long as America occupies Afghanistan.
Actually we do have business here. When the people trained there attacked us it became our business. You see as Americans we can be snobbish, impatient and yes rude. But we have another side in that we watch for each other as family and when one area of our country was attacked, and our brothers and sisters from around the world died that day, we banded together to find those who would continue this type of cowardly act and responded ten fold. Yes some of our men and women will perish in this fight, but I guarantee there will be a ten fold payback for everyone that does. We have the strongest and best fighting force in the world comprised of men and women from almost every nation on the globe......what does that say when the whole world fights for right?
Quite true,Afghan guy. Don't pay any attention to all these right-wing nutjobs! We have no right to be in Afghanistan at all.
Quite true,Bubba. I agree.
You're joking right? No business in Afganistan....really? After September 11th, the leadership there refused to hand over the perpetrator of 3000 American deaths on our own soil. I don't think there has EVER been a MORE JUSTIFIED REASON in AMERICAN HISTORY to go overseas to a country and fight...moron.
Sorry..I had an "I'm sparacus" moment with the Dindy Sri Lanka. IEDS..are the number one killer in Afghanistan and Iraq..always will be. The U.S. doesn't understand guerrilla warfare...and they will never learn it.
I'M DINDY SIR LANKA
How do roadside bombs in Afganistan affect the USA when 50% of the jobs posted on monster require me to be able to speak fluently in spanish? If you can answer that.. you aren't reading this.
you must be reading only the adverts that you are qualified for
Ratty, that would include being a physician, nurse, paramedic, law enforcement officer, police detective and anyone else dealing with the public. Those jobs have pretty steep qualifications and bilingualism or better is just one of them. Everyone in my discipline is required to speak and write English and they come from all over the globe to do and publish science in the U.S.. Qualifications are steep.
He's not very smart.
The shootings happened November 5th, which was less than a year ago.
I WILL DIE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER...!
Maritta – You are the only one here that makes any sense. Spc. Carroll stay safe and come home. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your bravery and your commitment. You are a hero. I hope once you are back on US soil you can get on with your life. You deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life. Teresa Scholte I feel your pain. I will pray for you both daily.
Will you cut the right-wing drivel??? It gets awfully old! This obnoxious war is both unnecessary and useless!
Thank you,Travis. That is one of the most sensible comments I've seen yet.
GOD IS IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERY ONE AND EVERYTHING . SO GOD CAN SEE EVERYTHING AND IT IS EASY FOR HIM TO JUDGE TOO. GOD DOES NOT NEED ANYONE TO CHANGE HIS POSITION .GOD THREW AWAY THE ONE WHO WENT TO CHANGE HIS POSITION ONCE. LORD IS NOT HAPPY WHEN PEOPLE FLY IN TO BUILDINGS WHEN THERE ARE LOTS OF SPACE GIVEN TO FLY BY HIM. THIS IS THE 360 DEGREE TRUTH ***
DAN ...VERY SORRY ...YOU ARE SO DESPERATE. WHY..... ... MANY DRONES ??????
DID THE RUSSIANS ALSO STAYED NINE YEARS IN AFGHANISTAN?OF CAUSE NO BODY WANT TO BE IN A HELL FOR ALONG TIME.
The Russians wised up and got out of there just like we need to do but won't because of the right-wing thugs in Washington.Too much money is being made out of this obscene war!!!
RIGHT WING AND THESE THUGS STORY IS NOT FROM ME . SOME ONE HAS GOT A LOOSE STOMACH TODAY.SO HE WRITES UNDER OTHER PEOPLES ID.
Why are CNN allowing different people to blog here with the same name.
WE SALUTE YOU SIR AND THIS IS ME DINDY. PLEASE ....YOU PAKISTAN 360 DREAMERS ..DO NOT STEP ON US. WE SRI LANKANS HATE TERRORISTS AND UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE LIKE YOU. MAY GOD BE WITH BRAVE SOLDIERS.
Oh the Sri Lankans!.. the innovators of suicide bombings, a courtesy of LTTE...y dont you tackle your problems before advising pakistan or anyone else
Do you know what an ignorant ass you are portraying yourself to be there are two sides in a civil war, it helps to know which is which.
God Bless you and our other troops for their bravery!!!!
Will you stop that warmongering,Maritta? It's starting to get old! There is absolutely no glory in this obnoxious war!!!
salute you sir.
Will you kindly let me speak for myself? I'll do my own blogging here,thank you!!!
DO NOT POST UNDER MY ID. I SAY AGAIN "......GOD IS WITH YOU.AND SALUTE YOU SIR.
I will ask you again nicely not to use my screen name. Thank you. We salute you, sir!
what's all this, then?
Alan Carroll, 21 is in Afghanistan manning a 50 caliber machine gun to protect her right to live. Does the Pope have and issue with the first IVF baby Louise Brown's right to live? He can talk to Alan.
@bailoutsos...the IVF controversy is not about the resulting person's right to live but rather the selective destruction of those already fertilized eggs at conception.
Well stated,Dan. I'm the real dindy Sri lanka and don't let any right-wing fool tell you otherwise. I agree with you.
Thank you Dan for your sensible comment here.We really need more bloggers like you with common sense.
DAN...IN LAFAYETTE,IN ....NO BODY WANTS TO STAY IN AFGHANISTAN FOR ALONG TIME. THEY WILL LEAVE SOON IF YOU.....THE PEOPLE IN PAKISTAN CAN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISTS LIKE REAL MEN. BUT YOU PAKISTAN PEOPLE HAVE PROVED THAT YOU CANT. SO SOME ONE ELSE HAVE TO DO YOUR JOB .ALTHOUGH THEY ARE YOUNG ,STILL VERY BRAVE THAN YOU COWARDLY PEOPLE WHO BOTTLE FEED TERRORISTS IN YOUR COUNTRY.
Are you form another planet? This country was used as an Al Qaida training ground. the only travesty here is that we dont take the gloves off and put countries like this one and Pakistan out of their misery. As far as Alan Carroll goes, they should name a steeet after this man, and probably will. Hopefully the one you live on. God bless him
Keep the foreigners out of Haiti, too.
Jeeze Dan, this country is only responsible for helping train and deploy the very people that took over 3,000 lives. What do you mean we do not have a right to be there? Where should we be, in Des Moines? This soldier and others like him are doing what they need to do to keep your happy self behind your PC villifying them daily. Isn't freedom great when we have young men and women willing to do a job most of us would run from?
Like the foreign Arab fighters that went to the training grounds that the Taliban used to host for Al Qaeda? Like the non-Afghan Arabs that trained there and planned 9/11? Typical liberal malcontent that complains all the time but provides no solutions.
You sir, are an ASS.
Dan, you're an ass. The muslim that shot up Fort Hood is just as bad as the Al Quieda trainees hiding in the caves and blowing up NATO tankers. This guy is a hero whether you agree with the politics or not.
We will be where we need to be to protect this country. Our brave soldiers will keep us safe from radicals and terrorist. You don't want foreigners in your country? Stop helping terrorist inflict damage to America and we will clean and leave. Not helping? Don't worry. We will do your job.
These young men and woman are true american heroes, You sir are an ass and if you are american a double ass and if not go back to where you were birthed, fool.
Has it ever occured to any of you right-wing idiots that you might just learn something from this Dan from Lafayette? I did just by reading some of his blogs and they make a world of sense.There is a saying "Every man is my superior that I may learn from him" but evidently you guys don't buy that. Ignorance is NOT bliss!
@Dan: This young man signed-up to serve his country, and Afghanistan is where his country has sent him. If you disagree with the United States being there, there are plenty of articles under which, and online forums in which, you can voice that opinion. That is NOT what this article is about. Please be respectful of the service people and their families reading this when posting your comments. Thank you.
Dan, you should be deported you give the rest of the people of Lafayette,IN a bad name, you too George.
Are you running this through google translator or something? What are you guys smoking?!
I`m guessing you kinda like the Hindu`s huh?And btw,This guy is welcome in my home anytime!
Afghanistan Crossroads is where CNN's reporting converges -- bringing you a diversity of voices, stunning images and video, global perspectives and the latest news from on the ground in Afghanistan and around the world.
- This blog was archived in October 2011.
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