Friday, January 25, 2013

A REAL WOMAN

Sergeant Pearsall deployed to Iraq twice.
As Sergeant Pearsall tells the story, her vehicle came under intense fire that day in 2007, near the city of Baquba. The male soldiers in her carrier had already dashed out to join the fight, so she jumped onto the machine gun and began returning fire.

Outside a soldier lay unconscious. Sergeant Pearsall opened the rear door and crawled to the man, who was 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds, twice her weight. From behind him, she clasped him in a bear hug and dragged him toward the vehicle. She fell once, then again. Somehow, she hauled him into the armored safety of the carrier.

After tearing off his protective vest, she realized his carotid artery had been torn by shrapnel. As blood spurted all over, she closed her eyes, stuck her fingers into his neck and squeezed. He screamed, and she thanked the heavens. He was still kicking.

What happened next seemed almost cinematic. Emerging from a purplish haze outside, a medic jumped into the carrier and set his kit beside her. “Are you a medic?” he asked.

Heck no, Sergeant Pearsall replied. “I’m the photographer.”

When the Bullets Flew, ‘They Didn’t Care That I Was a Woman’

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