MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Like thousands of other Marines and soldiers fighting in the Global War on Terrorism overseas, Lance Cpl. Brandon Wells experienced a head-on encounter with a roadside bomb on Iraq’s perilous roadways.
But unlike many of his fallen brethren, this 20-year-old Murray, Ky. native lived to tell his tale.
Wells, a tank crewman with Company B, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and fellow Marine, Sgt. Brent Sheets, 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.
“It didn’t even hurt at first,” explained Wells, a 2004 Murray High School graduate, as he recalled how pieces of shrapnel from the explosion had lodged themselves in his right arm. “I just got out of the truck to provide security, and that’s when I looked down and saw blood coming out of my arm.”
He had been atop the vehicles gun turret at the time, and said that his vehicle’s Kevlar-armored side panels absorbed most of the blast. This effectively saved Sheets’ legs and possibly even his life.
“I’m glad the shrapnel didn’t hit anywhere else,” Wells continued. “There were holes all over the side of the truck. I don’t see how (Sheets) didn’t get his legs blown off.”
Wells added that he will forever feel lucky to still be alive, and thankful that his company left Iraq in early October with no casualties.
“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” he stated. “I’ll be back to Iraq at least one more time, and I’ll use everything I learned this time around. I’ve learned to be more aware of my surroundings, and not be so naïve in trusting people around me. There are guys out there who only think about killing you.”