When the Bullets Flew, 'They Didn't Care That I Was a Woman'
January 25, 2013 6:01 pm
By JAMES DAO / The New York Times
During her second deployment to Iraq, Staff Sgt. Stacy Pearsall of the Air Force found herself attached to an Army ground unit that was clearing roadside bombs. They had just found their 26th device of the day when one of their armored personnel carriers exploded. An ambush was on.
The chaos that unfolded over the next few hours was not a typical day for Sergeant Pearsall. But under the Pentagon's decision to allow women into front-line combat units, officially announced Thursday, it could become much closer to the norm for women in American uniforms.
As Sergeant Pearsall tells the story, her vehicle came under intense fire that day in 2007, near the city of Baquba. The male soldiers in her carrier had already dashed out to join the fight, so she jumped onto the machine gun and began returning fire.
Outside a soldier lay unconscious. Sergeant Pearsall opened the rear door and crawled to the man, who was 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds, twice her weight. From behind him, she clasped him in a bear hug and dragged him toward the vehicle. She fell once, then again. Somehow, she hauled him into the armored safety of the carrier.