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Weiser Signal American of Weiser, Idaho

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Two civilians who went through hell in Iraq meet again after 10 years

Ten years ago, Weiser resident Terry Steward was a civilian truck driver working for a major contractor in Iraq.

It was good money hauling fuel and ammo for the troops but an extremely dangerous place to be in 2005.

Steward had been there for six months. He applied for the job, was hired and went through weeks of orientation before flying to Iraq.

On Sept. 20, 2005, Steward and the other truck drivers were getting ready to make a trip, or run, to another base. Steward, who was driving one of 12 trucks that day, recalls he was looking forward to the drive. It was a beautiful day. The scenery in this land so far away from Idaho was interesting.

Steward was driving truck No. 5. They left the fortified Joint Base LSA Anaconda-Balatt Air Base with armored military vehicles leading the way. It was a run down a highway to drop off supplies at another base. There was no inkling of what was to come.

"Halfway through, it went to hell,"

Steward said.

The convoy took a wrong turn and was ambushed by insurgents wielding AK-47s. Steward has eerie video of the attack recorded by another truck driver in the convoy. It is a chaotic scene as the staccato of automatic gunfire is heard coming from unseen assailants. The first truck is hit by a roadside bomb and disabled.

"They are fixing to kill us," the anguished voice on the video can be heard saying. There is dust in the air. Some trucks are unable to move, sitting ducks with no armor or protection. A couple of words remain with Steward of that scene...violent, intense.

Steward was shot in the legs, hand, above the groin. It was as if someone hit him with a sledgehammer. The guy in the truck in front of him was killed.

He blacked out. Word filtered back to the base that he wasn't going to make it. Three truck drivers died that day and three were wounded.

"You would think it would be clear how many times you got shot, but it isn't," he said. "I just wondered where all that blood came from."

Another trucker in the convoy insisted on checking on him. His name was Phillip Blizzard and he was behind Steward in truck No. 7. Steward thinks he should get credit for not only saving his life, but the lives of a couple of other truckers that day.

Blizzard pulled Steward from the cab of his truck and dragged him to one of the military vehicles. Blizzard pressed a bandage on his femoral artery to stem the bleeding. He was covered in blood. A helicopter was called in to transport the wounded back to the base.

"For him to do what he did was amazing," Steward said.

The story of the convoy ambush went around the world on the Associated Press wire.

Steward's wife, Darlene, who was a world a way in Weiser was told that Terry was not coming back. He had lost a lot of blood. Things looked really bad.

"Phillip literally saved Terry's life," Darlene said.

Steward was eventually flown from Iraq to Germany. From Germany he was flown to the U.S. for a long recuperation.

A decade later, Steward is still thanking his lucky stars he survived. He lives with Darlene and a couple of friendly dogs.

He has a souvenir if he ever wants to be reminded of that horrific day, a bullet-proof vest that has a half-dozen holes in it.

The trucker who checked on him and offered assistance finally met up with Steward. It was a visit to Weiser that took 10 years to make happen. Blizzard lives in Pensacola, Fla., with his wife Delia and he still drives truck.

"We've been promising for years to come up and spend a little time with him," Blizzard said.

Terry has a Defense of Freedom award for his work as a civilian in Iraq.



Copyright 2015 Weiser Signal American, Weiser, Idaho. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015



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