Friday, September 05, 2003

Before the paratroopers could return to rigging a towline for the overheated Humvee, an Iraqi man staggered up with his small son in his arms. The boy's head was gushing blood. The father was hysterical.

The soldiers helped the man behind their Humvee and started first aid. "We were afraid the kid was shot in the head and was going to die," Berndt said.

While other paratroopers provided security and rigged the towline, Berndt and Smittle checked the boy. They had to first pry the child - a 3-year-old - from his weeping father.

The boy seemed stunned and did not cry. He said little, his big brown eyes darting between the paratroopers as they examined the wound and bandaged his head...

Smittle and Berndt said it was the second time in a week they have taken fire from Iraqis.

All of the paratroopers kept their heads during the shooting. Afterward, they showed some frustration.

"It was a terrible thing that the kid got hit; we are trying to help them and this is another example of the day-to-day crap we put up with," Thagard said.

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