Baraki Barak (Afghanistan): A US soldier has described how he survived a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade on his first patrol in Afghanistan, after the projectile bounced off his leg.
Specialist Devin Hagar's brush with death came during a patrol in Logar province south of Kabul. His platoon retreated along a river after coming under attack, and were about to cross when his squad leader decided they were in a bad spot.
"I turned and put one foot up on the riverbank and that's when I saw the back-blast of the RPG and the guy's silhouette and a silver thing with a red tip coming at me," the 22-year-old from Kansas told.
"I just looked at it and thought, 'What's that?' Then it hit me in the leg. I looked down and just thought, 'Awesome, my leg is still here'.
"It was like a big dude hitting you in the leg with a baseball bat. It was a pretty good thump."
The impact made Hagar, of 1st Squadron (Airborne) 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, drop his rifle. After crawling up the riverbank, he lay in a ditch trying not to get hit as the battle raged around him.
He was given his weapon back and, still under fire, crawled and hobbled across the terrain, using his rifle as a crutch, until a medivac helicopter picked him up along with a colleague who had been shot.
One of the other men said he saw the rocket bounce off Hagar's leg and blow up, according to the specialist.
After the incident on July 6, Hagar spent a few days in the medical centre, with the bruise swelling up and spreading across his thigh.
He is now back on duty with his battalion, with only a small patch of scar tissue to show for his remarkable escape.
"It was pretty surreal, like it wasn't happening," he said. "I couldn't stop smiling, I was laughing the whole time, thinking 'That was awesome'. I'm just glad I wasn't blown into
a hundred pieces."