Combat engineer keeping our troops safe

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

He was a buffalo Soldier. Well, not exactly, but he did drive a Buffalo
while protecting U.S. troops from roadside death traps laid by Iraqi

Spc. Terry Grant, 224th Engineer Battalion, is a combat engineer from
the Iowa National Guard whose typical day goes something like this: he
wakes up, puts on his protective gear and climbs into the equivalent of
a Humvee on steroids.

“It’s more like a bus with a v-bottom,” said Specialist Grant, 39. “It looks like a boat, and it’s as big as a semi.”

He then goes out with his crew and searches for improvised explosive
devices. They can be anywhere – atop the sand or buried. They can be
exposed or wrapped in a meals ready to eat package. He has seen them
wrapped in an inner tube to look like a blown tire. He usually finds
four a day. On the day he got injured, he found nine. It was the ninth
one that landed him at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

“You feel pretty safe in the Buffalo,” he said. “An IED never
penetrates its armor. I had never heard of it happening. I had never
seen it happen. And I’ve been doing this since January.”

He spotted the IED poking out of the roadside sand. As he pulled up
next to it and peered down from his driver’s position, it exploded. The
massive shell penetrated the Buffalo’s side and sent shrapnel into his
left arm and ribcage. His arm broke in two places and there is now a
hole where the nerves that make his fingers move used to be.

“My life is gonna be different from here on out,” he said. “It will
never be the same – physically or emotionally. I think about that day
over and over and wish I could go back and do something differently,
though I don’t know what I could have done.”

The staff at LRMC’s patient ward, 8 Delta, has done a lot to not only
keep his arm in good shape, but also help buoy his spirits.

“They are kind of like psychiatrists as well as nurses,” he said. “They
sit down, talk to you and help you get through it. They are good
people. They really are.”

One thing that helps him now and during his stay in Iraq is that fact
that his job was critical to the success of the mission and to the
health of his fellow servicemembers.

“If we can’t clear the routes, troops can’t run missions and supplies
can’t be delivered,” said Specialist Grant. “You don’t want our guys
taken out before they get to where they are going.”

When asked what he thinks about when he reflects back on his time in Iraq, he took a long pause and said the following.

“I get worried about the kids over there,” he said. “The ones who are
‘indestructible’ like I was at that age. My heart drops when I see or
read about our troops dying. It goes straight to my heart. It really
touches me.”

And what Iraq story would be complete without at least one reference to
the heat, which has become legendary through stories shared by
downrange servicemembers.

“It is so hot that porta-potties melt,” he said. “They actually start to deform.”