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While he and his fellow Marines provided security for a recent convoy in the Al Anbar Province just outside the city of Fallujah, Lance Cpl. Timothy A. Harvey, a machine gunner with Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, was injured in an improvised explosive device attack. He walked away with minimal injuries; a few pieces of shrapnel are being expelled from his right eye socket by his body's natural recovery system. Harvey, a 21-year-old native of Colusa, Calif., and the rest of Security Company have performed hundreds of missions since arriving here earlier this year, as CLB 5 serves a vital role of logistical support in the region.

Photo by Cpl. Daniel J. Redding

Marine walks away with 20/20 vision after IED blast

7 Jun 2006 | Cpl. Daniel J. Redding

"If I wasn't wearing those big grandpa glasses, I probably would have gotten messed up pretty bad," said the Marine, his bruised and healing right eye a stark reminder of the improvised explosive device attack he recently endured. Lance Cpl. Timothy A. Harvey spotted something suspicious in front of his humvee as he manned the machine gunner's position for the lead vehicle in his convoy. It was well past midnight when suddenly a bright, white light was all he could see as he was violently whipped back in his turret. A partially-buried IED, the preferred method for attacking Marines here, had been triggered and exploded sending hot shrapnel and debris towards the 21-year-old Colusa, Calif., native. There was no time for reaction as his body rocked back and forth slamming into the metal turret that protected his body from the blast."I thought I was dead," said Harvey as he recounted the events of that night. Harvey knew he had survived when he settled back onto his weapon underneath him after getting bounced around. He didn't know the injuries he had suffered as his convoy pressed on to a spot where they could assess the damage. He was worried he had lost an eye. Wearing black gloves and engulfed in the darkness of the early morning hours, Harvey couldn't see the blood that ran from his face. He would later learn how close he was to losing his sight."I kind of feel like a test dummy," said Harvey. "The blast went off right next to my face, and I made it through with 20/20 vision."Harvey walked away with a badly bruised face and some shrapnel lodged just under his eye - his protective ballistic glasses saved his sight. Harvey sees his experience as a lesson for all Marines who want to complain about the heavy weight of protective gear they are required to wear outside the security of the camp's borders."Maybe it is a good idea to wear the protective gear," Harvey said.He is back at work after a week of treatment and recovery at various medical facilities. A few pieces of shrapnel are being expelled from his right eye socket by his body's natural recovery system."Two days after he got back from Ballad (a medical center in Baghdad), he was back up manning the gun," said Sgt. Anthony E. Williams, Harvey's squad leader. "It's a testament to his fortitude, what type of Marine he is, what type of person he is."Harvey and his fellow squad members are part of Security Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 5, and are responsible for supporting convoy operations and other missions in and around Fallujah. Their mission is providing protection to Marine convoys as they travel the dangerous roads of the region. The unit has protected 400-plus convoys and other missions since it arrived in Iraq three months ago. Harvey has missed only one convoy while he was in Ballad receiving medical treatment. Harvey is a leader for his fellow Marines not only in his ability as a machine gunner, but his overall reputation as a Marine, said Williams, a 23-year-old native of Tuscan, Ariz. He has pride in the work he and his fellow Marines do as they protect convoy after convoy. "We do a (really) good job of keeping people safe," said Harvey. Every time he heads outside of Camp Fallujah, there is an uncomfortable feeling for Harvey until the convoy has been successfully completed, he said. "An insurgent attack can happen at any moment, especially in this region," he said. Email Cpl. Redding at daniel.redding@cssemnf-wiraq.usmc.mil.
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