MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Like thousands of other Marines and soldiers fighting in the Global War on Terrorism overseas, Sgt. Brent Sheets experienced a head-on encounter with a roadside bomb on Iraq’s perilous roadways.
But unlike many of his fallen brethren, this 22-year-old Salisbury, N.C. native lived to tell his tale.
Sheets, the motor transport chief for Company B, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and fellow Marine, Lance Cpl. Brandon Wells, were both awarded the Purple Heart Medal here Oct. 31 for wounds received in action May 1.
The two Marines’ armored vehicle had struck an insurgent-emplaced improvised explosive device, consisting of two 155mm artillery rounds, hidden within a pile of garbage. They had been conducting combat operations outside Fallujah.
“The explosion knocked me out. When I woke up, there was a trail of blood coming down my face, and the truck was smoking, ” said Sheets, a 2001 graduate of South Rowan High School. “I got hit with shrapnel on the back of my leg, and there were some pieces on my flak (anti-fragmentation vest).”
The vehicle’s Kevlar side panels absorbed most of the shrapnel from the blast, effectively saving Sheets’ legs and possibly even his life. Sheets said that the bits of shrapnel that did punch through the armor zipped by only inches from their bodies.
“I think about how lucky we were that day,” Sheets stated. “The truck was a wreck, and there was no saving it after that blast. I’d say that someone was definitely looking out for us.”