Soldiers' Stories Statement
Former Sergeant Steve Pyle, U.S. Army, 101st Airborne Division, veteran of the Shock and Awe Invasion of Iraq, with wife, Debbie, and children, Steven, Brooke, Cassie, Chloe, Michaela, Mandy, and Brandi; Deland, FL, July 2006
48”x 48” Chromogenic Color Print

This is the story of my survival day: May 1, 2003, Mosul, Iraq.
After a routine patrol my team became engaged in small arms fire while clearing some buildings in an area near an abandoned airport. When I heard the fire, I was approximately 600 yards in the opposite direction of my men. I positioned myself to identify the fire and saw my men taking fire from an area of buildings across the way. From my position I could see beyond the source of fire where there were Iraqi nationals running out of the back building beyond the sight of my team, so I maneuvered myself to their position to assist. We needed to get back to the Humvee in order to get out of the area. We popped smoke; my team ran as I pulled cover fire. Once they were in position I threw smoke again and ran for the Humvee.
The small arms fire had somewhat ceased when the mortars started. They were blowing up all around me when I was thrown into an Iraqi troop carrier and sustained a severe head injury. I was knocked out for a few seconds. I knew I had been injured badly. The top of my head had been smashed and several bones in my right foot were broken. I looked up and around for my guys and saw two men running toward me that appeared to be my team, so I laid back and waited for help.

Within the next few seconds, I was attacked by two Iraqi nationals. They were kicking and hitting me repeatedly. Obviously they had no weapons and were attempting to kill me and take mine. One of them tried to take the bayonet affixed to the chest of my fragmentation jacket. It was at that time that everything seemed like slow motion. I remember thinking if I didn’t stop them, I was going to die, so I did what I had to do to disable these two guys beating on me. I used my bayonet on the guy directly on top of me and then engaged the other man who had been kicking me. It was then that I realized that my men had to leave the area due to the strength in numbers of the fast-approaching enemy.

I believe they thought I had been killed, so they did what they had to do to survive. I hid under some blown-up building debris for approximately six hours before I was picked up. My team returned with backup to search for me. I received medical care from a medic and was flown by Blackhawk to Baghdad. Baghdad was under heavy fire at that time so it took several hours to get me in the air to Kuwait. After being hospitalized in Kuwait I was flown to Germany and finally back home to the U.S. It was by the Grace of God and a few good soldiers that I survived that day.

Steve Pyle sustained a traumatic brain injury and other permanent injuries as a result of this incident. He now serves as commander of his local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

This text was condensed and edited from a written statement by Steve Pyle. Interviews were conducted by Jennifer Karady in July 2006 and December 2009.

© Jennifer Karady 2022, all rights reserved.