We salute the soldier who sacrificed his leg to save his battle buddies during a tank accident

Unsung Heroes

Spc. Ezra Maes undergoes physical rehabilitation at BAMC.

(U.S. Army/Corey Toye0

Army Spc. Ezra Maes was on a deployment to Poland when an accident almost took his life.


Maes, 21, was working as the loader on the main cannon of an M1A2 Abrams tank about a year into a deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

On the second day of a rotation in Slovakia, he and two other crew members had fallen asleep when they awoke to realize their tank was starting to roll downhill.

The tank's man parking brake had failed, according to an Army release, and the emergency braking procedures the crew tried to initiate weren't working.

The tank started picking up speed, and was "careening down the hill at nearly 90 mph" before it eventually crashed into an embankment, the Army release says.

The collision of the tank caused Maes's leg to become caught in the turret gear, which then slid completely onto his leg.

Candace Pellock, physical therapy assistant, guides with Spc. Ezra Maes at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center's cutting-edge rehabilitation center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Oct. 2, 2019.(U.S. Army/Corey Toye)

Maes thought his leg was only broken, and was focused on getting out to help the gunner, Sgt. Aechere Crump, who was bleeding from her leg, and driver Pfc. Victor Alamo, who was stuck up front with a broken back.

"I pushed and pulled my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear," Maes said in the Army release. "I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone."

He began rapidly losing blood, and when he went to grab a tourniquet he began to feel lightheaded. So he began shock procedures, and made a tourniquet from his belt to slow the bleeding. Crump also used a belt to form a tourniquet and stop her own bleeding.

Maes called for her to radio for help, only to realize that the radio wasn't working.

Luckily, Maes' cell phone began ringing, and they realized it was the only phone with service. He sent a text and help arrived shortly afterwards.

Sgt. Aechere Crump and Pfc. Victor Alamo visit with Spc. Ezra Maes during their recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center. Crump and Alamo survived the tank accident with Maes in early 2018(U.S. Army photo)

Maes said that his last memory from the ordeal was seeing his sergeant major carry his leg on his shoulder back up the hill. He said in the release that he wanted to see if it could be reattached, "but it was pulverized."

Maes also broke his shoulder, his pelvis in three places, and his ankle. He spent a total of four months in intensive care, but is now "immersed" in occupational and physical therapy at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

While it was a difficult road to recovery, both physically and emotionally, Maes says every day is a gift. Now, a year later, Maes is preparing to receive a "long-term prosthetic leg through a cutting-edge procedure," during which surgeons plan to implant a titanium rod into the bone of his residual limb to attach the prosthesis.

"When something like this happens," Maes said in the release. "It's easy to give up because your life won't be the same, and you're not wrong. Life will take a 180, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. Don't let it hinder you from moving forward."

A UH-60 Black Hawk departs from The Rock while conducting Medevac 101 training with members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, Feb. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys)

A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.

At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.

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An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps

"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."

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(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.

At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.

Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.

"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."

She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."

It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.

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