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Soldiers of Heart

Excerpted from the Washington Post

By Peter Hermann

The soldiers had passed the Washington Monument and were coming up on the midpoint of their morning jog, the U.S. Capitol. They didn’t see the Metro bus hit the man, but they heard the thud, which jolted them from the quiet rhythm of their run.

U.S. Army Sgts. John Russell and Brian Williams rushed to a man lying on the Mall on Wednesday morning and let their training from Afghanistan and Iraq take over. They turned bystanders’ T-shirts into tourniquets to stem blood flowing from a badly fractured leg and dress a gash on the victim’s forehead.

Williams, 30, is originally from Baltimore. Before Wednesday, the last time he treated patients was in 2009 when a vehicle in his convoy in Logar province, south of Kabul, hit an explosive device planted along a road. While under fire, he helped pull three of his unit members from the overturned vehicle, treating them for concussions and other trauma, he recalled.

Russell, from Tennessee, remembered the precise date that he last encountered trauma. It was Oct. 18, 2009, at the end of a 28-day mission training Afghan national police officers in the Kunar province, near the Pakistan border, one of the region’s most volatile districts.

Metro spokeswoman Morgan Dye said the jogger apparently ran into the street against a traffic light and struck the right side of the northbound bus. The driver was placed on paid leave, which is routine.

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