“We got ready to leave -- Sgt. Nunn was
gunning and I was driving,” continued Griffith. “We headed out
the gate and received word that there was a possible IED [up ahead]. After we
made it through that area, we felt alright that we made it but we noticed there was no one around.”
And that’s when it happened. After passing a checkpoint, Griffith’s humvee was hit
by an IED, sending the humvee into a swerve as Griffith did his best to regain
control of his vehicle.
“I think this was the first day that nothing
was said amongst us inside the humvee,” he said. “Usually, something
was said. It took me a minute to realize what just happened, because it was my
first IED that I’ve gotten into.”
“I tried to keep the vehicle on the road
as much as possible and it finally came to a stop,” he continued.
With no time to think, Griffith
quickly exited the vehicle and ran to his battle buddies aid. He first saw Nunn
in the gunners hatch, jumped on top of the humvee, and started pulling him out.
“The first thing that popped into my mind
was everyone needs to get out of this vehicle because there might be a secondary IED about to go off,” he said. “I knew I needed to get these guys out and get them to safety.”
“I jumped out [of the vehicle] to figure
out what I was going to do next,” Griffith said with a bit of distress in
his voice. “I grabbed Sgt. Nunn out of the humvee; he was still in the
gunners hatch. He was asking me how his face was.
I told him everything was going to be alright, because I didn’t really know how bad he was.”
“I’ve tried to forget [the experience],”
said Nunn, a native of Kansas City, Miss.
“I remember the blast and smoke and [Griff] dodging and swerving, trying to keep us on the road. My first reaction after the blast was the pain in my right side.
I thought I lost my hand.
“And in the haze and the buzzing noises
around me, all I see is Griff yelling, ‘Get out! Get out!’” Nunn said.
“He got me out of the vehicle through the top [gunner’s hatch] and all I remember after
that was waking up in another humvee,” he said. “I passed out.”
“At that point, the commander’s humvee
had pulled up right next to us, so I took Sgt. Nunn between the two humvees,” Griffith
said. “I knew DeNeutte was still inside the humvee.”
quickly moved around the large vehicle to attend to his comrade but he couldn’t get him out of his door. So, with quick thinking and brute strength, Griffith ran around
the other side of the vehicle and pulled the injured DeNeutte out of the smoking humvee.
“I couldn’t get to him because his
door was combat locked, I just couldn’t get in,” Griffith said. “So I went around the other side of the humvee and pulled DeNeutte by his [equipment]
and pulled him over the seats of the humvee and got him out. I then drug him
between the two humvees.”
“DeNeutte kept asking me if he looked alright
and I told him everything was going to be alright,” said Griffith. “I
laid him down and our [doctor who was traveling with the convoy] came running up.”
As the medic rendered aid, Griffith
manned the machine gun, scanning his sector for the triggerman.
Nunn and DeNeutte were quickly evacuated from
the area to receive treatment for their wounds. Nunn has since returned to the
unit, while DeNeutte is still recovering back in the States.
“I suffered a broken hand, shrapnel in the
right side of my face, in my right arm and little pieces of shrapnel in my right thigh,” said Nunn.
Upon Nunn’s return to the unit after being
hospitalized for two weeks, he and Griffith finally crossed paths with each other.
“I think the first thing we did when we
saw each other was hug,” said Nunn. “It was a big experience for
the both of us.”
“I was happy to see him back,” added
Griffith. “It was a good feeling. We talked for a few minutes and carried on.”
And the duo has carried on with their missions
since. Griffith has been “hit”
by a total of four IEDs now, each taking him back to Nov. 25, 2006, but
said he has not been fazed by these experiences. Griffith
has stood his ground and handled each situation with care.
“This is what my NCOs and Chain-of-Command
has taught me,” he said. “Before we came over here, being it was
my first time, they taught me what to do in a situation like that. If it wasn’t
for them, I probably wouldn’t have known what to have done.”
“Unfortunately, we didn’t catch the
triggerman that day, but we did catch him later on another mission,” Griffith
added. “It was an awesome feeling.
It just felt good to know we got the guy who did this. It was a relief.”
also said he has talked with DeNeutte since the attack.
“He wanted to thank me for getting him out,”
Griffith said. “He said, ‘Thanks
for what you did.’”
Nunn said it was good to be back and didn’t
want to go home -- he preferred to stay in the fight and carry out his mission, with Griffith
by his side.
“He acted on a reflex,” said Nunn,
proudly. “It wasn’t, ‘What should I do? Somebody tell me what should I do?’ As soon as [the
blast] happened, he handled the vehicle. Once the vehicle stopped, he quickly
analyzed the situation, jumped up and got me out of the vehicle.
“When the other vehicle pulled up, he quickly
got me in-between the two vehicles,” he continued. “He jumped back
into the vehicle, got DeNeutte out and he knew there had to be a triggerman on the outside of the road. He jumped in the gunners spot and started looking for that guy.
“If you have never been through something
like that, it doesn’t matter what anybody teaches you,” said Nunn. “You’re
either ready, or your not, and Griff proved his worth that day. It shows a lot
about his character and what he’s willing to do for his team.
“It’s reassuring…there are guys
who know how to handle a situation and know how to respond without being told what to do. Those are the guys you want riding
in your vehicle, sitting next to you and going where you go,” Nunn said.
“This is real,” added Griffith.
“I just knew something needed to be done, so I acted.”
Griffith’s and Nunn’s unit knows there
is a bond between the two that will never be broken. The two Soldiers joke with
each other, give the other one a hard time, but deep down, there is love between the two - love for their fellow Soldier and
“I don’t think proud is the right
word for [my feelings toward] Griff…it’s more than that,” Nunn said.
“Griff and I are family.”
This story was published on BlackAnthem.com
Story and photos by Spc. Ryan Stroud, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs