Spc. Brittany Gordon of Lewis-McChord’s 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division died with a CIA officer and four Afghan partners Oct. 13 when a man in an Afghan intelligence uniform detonated a suicide vest. Press reports suggest the killer was a member of the Afghan National Directorate of Security
Spc. Steve Beaty of the Montana National Guard was among the wounded that day. He was part of a security detail protecting a colonel.
Beaty told the Missoulian that he saw the man with the suicide vest approach his team. Here’s an excerpt from a story by Missoulian’s Martin Kidston:
“He was in a military uniform, and that’s why he was able to get so close,” Beaty said. “The regulations that prevent us from making a wrong decision and killing innocent people also prevent us from really engaging the bad people.”
The man’s arms were crossed before him. Beaty saw ammo pouches strapped to his torso. He was 12 feet away, 15 at the most – the ammo pouches packed with deadly shrapnel and ball bearings.
“As I started to transition my weapon up, he looked at me and blew himself up,” Beaty said. “I remember the concussion. I remember the blast itself. It’s a very surreal moment to see that. It’s not something I’d wish on anyone.”
The explosion came with a crack, knocking Beaty sharply to the ground. He caught himself with his left hand and tried to step with his right foot.
His leg collapsed below him.
“I thought at first my foot was gone,” Beaty said. “I looked down and saw the shrapnel had come through my boot.”
Gordon, 24, had a bright future ahead of her in the Army, her mentors and friends said at a memorial to her at Lewis-McChord this month. They said she volunteered for her last mission to help train a junior soldier.
Beaty told the newspaper he felt lucky to be alive even as he grieves for soldiers who didn’t make it home.
“It really puts into perspective that you don’t know how long you’re going to have,” Beaty said. “I do have bad days where I think about the people we lost.”