We salute the soldier who sacrificed his leg to save his battle buddies during a tank accident
Army Spc. Ezra Maes was on a deployment to Poland when an accident almost took his life.
Maes, 21, was an working as the loader on the main cannon of an M1A2 Abrams tank about a year into a deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.
On the second day of a rotation in Slovakia, he and two other crew members had fallen asleep when they awoke to realize their tank was starting to roll downhill.
The tank’s man parking brake had failed, according to an Army release, and the emergency braking procedures the crew tried to initiate weren’t working.
The tank started picking up speed, and was “careening down the hill at nearly 90 mph” before it eventually crashed into an embankment, the Army release says.
The collision of the tank caused Maes’s leg to become caught in the turret gear, which then slid completely onto his leg.
Candace Pellock, physical therapy assistant, guides with Spc. Ezra Maes at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s cutting-edge rehabilitation center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Oct. 2, 2019.(U.S. Army/Corey Toye)
Maes thought his leg was only broken, and was focused on getting out to help the gunner, Sgt. Aechere Crump, who was bleeding from her leg, and driver Pfc. Victor Alamo, who was stuck up front with a broken back.
“I pushed and pulled my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear,” Maes said in the Army release. “I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone.”
He began rapidly losing blood, and when he went to grab a tourniquet he began to feel lightheaded. …read more
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