October 13, 2021
A US soldier made the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save the rest of his crew. The youngster gave up his leg and managed to help his team survive after their tank crashed.
In 2019, Spc. Ezra Maes spoke about the event that changed his life forever. He was a soldier with a determination and loyalty that amazed many. The humble hero states his belt, phone, and cell reception saved the day, but in reality, it was him.
The then-21-year-old man who worked as an army tank cannon loader was in the middle of training in Slovakia when things went wrong. While he and fellow team members were asleep in the tank, the 65-ton vehicle began rolling down the hill.
BRACED FOR THE CRASH
The incident, which took place at the start of 2018, spiraled out of control quickly. When the crew tried to step on the brakes, they realized it was no longer functional. At that moment, Maes knew "if [he] didn't help [his] crew, no one was going to."
After attempting various emergency protocols, the crew knew all they could do was brace for the crash. Thankfully, they survived the impact. However, Maes was hurled into the turret gear, and he was stuck.
HE JUMPED INTO ACTION
Maes believed his leg was broken but what happened next was unexpected. Amid his team's cries for help and medical assistance, the soldier's instinct kicked in, and he did the unthinkable—through his pain, he broke free from the gear.
He saw his fellow teammate with a badly bleeding thigh and another lying on the ground with severe back injuries, and this propelled him into action.
GOING INTO SHOCK
Through the panic and pain, the young soldier started going into shock. He used his belt to make a tourniquet for himself and stepped up to save the others despite his own critical wounds.
CALLED FOR HELP
Their radio wasn't working, and they instantly felt doomed. However, a faint sound gave them hope again. Maes heard his cell phone ringing. His device had survived the crash, and unbelievably he had cell service.
Soon, help was on the way, and Maes remembered seeing another soldier carrying his leg out of the tank. Sadly, their attempts to save it were unsuccessful.
HIS POSITIVE RECOVERY
The team was rushed to the hospital and felt extremely lucky to be alive. Maes shared: "So many things could have gone wrong. Besides my leg, we all walked away pretty much unscathed."
Months later, the soldier was busy with rehab and physical therapy for his injuries. Despite the ordeal, he is always pictured with a big smile on his face and expresses that he has a new outlook on life.
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