It’s not too often you get to meet a hero in person, but I’ve been fortunate to meet several of them since being here. You won’t see this in the newspaper, because the media is narrowly focused on fatalities and this hero survived his wounds. But today you can read about a hero I would like to recognize. He is a friend and brother in arms. SPC Christopher Santiago Lowe hails from Savannah, Georgia and is a member of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 108th BCT, 48th Brigade – he’s one of the Alpha Troop and I call them the “Georgia Boys.”
I met SPC Lowe shortly after arriving here. Everyone at camp calls him “Lowe”, but his mom calls him “Kit.” Lowe worked in the same building as I did, except our offices are separated by a plywood wall. His primary duty was to manage the ammunitions and munitions for the brigade. In addition, he would accompany his team on missions to the various villages and valleys. In earlier blog entries, I published some photos of him out on missions.
Note: For OPSEC reasons, I have to generalize some of the facts. On the early morning of 7 August 09, SPC Lowe was part of a 5-man team patrolling in the Kapisa Province area along with ANA and coalition forces. While traveling through one of the village hamlets lined with thick stone walls and mud brick houses, the insurgents unleashed a furious attack. The insurgents were well prepared and it was almost as they were informed and anticipated their arrival. Approximately 60-100 Taliban insurgents fired RPGs, AK-47’s, PKMs, and Ditska (equivalent of US 50-cal.) and other weapons at the approaching forces. Lowe along with his team sought shelter in a kalat (mud-stone house inside a walled in compound). Marine Captain Matt Freeman crawled on top of the roof looking for advantage points and was fatally hit by a bullet. “Doc” the medic was trying to provide assistance and recover the body. Doc yelled out for some help and Lowe’s reflexes took over as he scrambled up a ladder to the roof. Doc was tugging on Captain Freeman’s body and Lowe apparently sensed the danger. He grabbed Doc and threw him down. About the same time, Lowe took a bullet to his upper right thigh area. Both he and Doc fell off the roof to the ground. Doc apparently fell on top of Lowe’s leg and thought he broke it because Lowe was yelling “My leg, my leg”. But when the Doc saw the spurting blood, his medical training kicked into high gear and he applied a CAT tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
The femoral artery was nicked, but Doc was able to stabilize the bleeding and Lowe was transported out of the battle space to a helicopter landing zone. Meanwhile the fierce fighting continued until the Air Force F-15’s armed with a 500 lb bomb along with a pair of Army Kiowa Attack helicopters arrived. The ANA counter-reacted by methodically blowing up the kalats where the Taliban was hiding. The insurgents retreated and ran for the hills. The next few hours were small tactical engagements as the Taliban disappeared. Tragically that day during this 6 ½ hour battle, the ANA lost 4 soldiers, US 1, and the French had 3 soldiers wounded. The body count of the insurgents was 6-fold including one prominent Taliban area commander.
SPC Lowe was flown to Bagram Air Field (BAF) where he underwent surgery to save his leg. Although the details are a bit fuzzy, he asked if he could go back (meaning to his FOB) and the nurse responded, “yes, you will go back.” But before the nurse could finish her sentence, Lowe gave a thumbs-up. But when the nurse completed the sentence with “back to the States,” he allegedly produced a different finger gesture. While SPC Lowe was being cared for by the finest military doctors in country, he was also awarded the Purple Heart.
I had an opportunity to speak with Lowe on the phone yesterday. He had just come out of another surgery and was still pretty groggy from the drugs, but I was able to decipher his muttering. I told him he was a hero! He said, “Senior, I am not a hero, I was only doing my job.” The doctors were able to save his leg and this morning he is on a plane flying to Walter Reed hospital in Maryland.
As a result of my blog, his mother Sandi has becomes friends with my wife and kept her informed of Lowe’s progress. Marine “Master Guns” also talked with Lowe too. It’s obvious he still has his sense of humor about him. He is quoted as saying to the female nurses “I am single, I am sexy, and I am wounded.”
SPC Lowe will not return to Afghanistan and will undergo rehabilitation for his leg. In honor of this brave soldier, friend and hero, I managed to gather some unpublished pictures (see photo slide show below for additional pictures). I promised not to embarrass him too much. Get well, Lowe, and Godspeed for your recovery. PS…Your mom has invited Liisa and I to visit after my deployment. Don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep. I expect you to be able to run up the hill sides like you did on the last VMO mission. Take care, my friend, and all of the Georgia Boys wish you the best!
Again, if you’d like to have the slide show move faster, click on the “+” sign in bottom left corner to reach desired speed. You can also click on “View all images” and look at the photos at your own pace.
Filed under: Missions, Photo slide shows | Tagged: 48th Brigade, Afghanistan, Apha Troop, Deployment, Georgia Army National Guard’s 108th BCT, Kapisa Province, Marine Captain Matt Freeman, military combat patrols, SPC Christopher Santiago Lowe, U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, war |