Gunny Iron Mike Burghardt


GySgt Mike Burghardt, who was looking to clear an evacuation route for vehicles, hopped into what he thought was a recent bomb crater. He saw an interesting piece of shrapnel in the 4 foot deep hole and wanted to investigate. As he took a closer look, the shattered gravel beneath his foot shifted, revealing a package wrapped in orange plastic and a cordless telephone base station.


Realizing that he had just stumbled onto a primed explosive, Burghardt stuck his knife in the dirt and dredged up a red detonating cord that led to a pair of 122 mm artillery shells. He cut the cord with scissors and told the rest of his team to stay back.


"I thought I had done good," Burghardt said.


But what he didn't realize was that a second detonating cord ran from the base station to a third artillery shell buried behind him. The triggerman, figuring perhaps that he wouldn't lure anyone else into the trap that day, placed a telephone call to the base station.


"That's when I heard the distinct crack of that artillery shell," Burghardt said.


He was blown into the air, but miraculously only suffered wounds to his lower body, none of which were bad enough to keep him from refusing a ride on a stretcher. Instead, he stood up and walked away, giving one last gesture to his would-be assassin.


"I didn’t want them to see the team leader carried away on a stretcher."


-Stars & Stripes

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