Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andrew J. Armstrong has survived two improvised explosive device attacks in Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Bryan Nygaard
Face of Defense: Marine Survives IED Blasts
By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Bryan Nygaard
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force
COMBAT OUTPOST SHUKVANI, Afghanistan, June 7, 2011 – Lance Cpl. Andrew J. Armstrong’s fellow Marines call him “Rock,” and the name fits him well. The Corinth, N.Y., native has survived two roadside bomb blasts. He is still in the fight and shows no signs of stopping.
But the memory of the first explosion will always be engraved in his mind.
On Dec. 10, 2010, Armstrong, a forward observer with Fire Control Team 5, Supporting Arms Liaison Team Chuck, 2nd Air-Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, was on a patrol with soldiers of the 32nd Georgian Light Infantry Battalion. He was accompanied by his team chief, Marine Corps Sgt. Jamie Lee Lantgen, and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Christ, a hospitalman.
Also present was Marine Corps Cpl. Alex Wilson, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, who was attached to the Georgian liaison team, and Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Stacy Green, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, who was working with the Afghan National Army embedded training team.
The patrol members were aboard four mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, and they were driving through the village of Corgulat in mid-afternoon. They then spotted something suspicious on the road: three rocks stacked on top of each other. It was a sign of a possible roadside bomb.
The patrol stopped, set up a perimeter around the area and called in an explosive ordnance disposal team to investigate.
“It’s TIC time!” yelled Lantgen, using the battlefield acronym for “troops in contact.”
The Marines and Georgian soldiers had learned to expect contact with insurgent forces during that time of day. Minutes later, the patrol started taking fire.
Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Holm, the team leader for Fire Control Team 6, was on an observation post and saw the patrol taking fire from the east. He radioed the Marines and told them to take cover on the western side of the vehicles.
“I just turned the corner, and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground,” Armstrong said about being thrown from the explosive blast. “My initial thought was that I had been hit by [a rocket-propelled grenade]. I felt pain in my right arm. First thing I did was wiggle my fingers and toes to make sure they were still there.”...
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Thank you for your service, Sir.