HINDIYAH, Iraq -- "We've got to get her off that bridge," he said.
Capt. Chris Carter winced at the risks his men would have to take. Engaged in a lightning-fast raid for this Euphrates River town, they were battling for a bridge when through the smoke they saw the elderly woman, pictured on Page 1A today. She had tried to race across the bridge when the Americans arrived, but was caught in the cross-fire.
At first, peering through their rifle scopes, they thought she was dead, like the man sprawled in the dust nearby. But then, during breaks in the gunfire that whizzed over her head, she sat up and waved for help.
Carter, a 32-year-old Army Ranger, ordered his Bradley armored vehicle to pull forward while he and two men ran behind it. They took cover behind the bridge's iron beams.
Carter tossed a smoke grenade for more cover and approached the woman, who was crying and pointing toward a wound on her hip. She wore the black chador, common among older women in the countryside. The blood soaked through the fabric, streaking the pavement around her.
Medics placed the woman on a stretcher and into an ambulance; Carter stood by, providing cover with his M16A4 rifle. Then she was gone, and Monday's battle for this town of 80,000, 50 miles south of Baghdad, raged on.