October 12, 2003 was the second anniversary of the first U.S. bombing in Afghanistan. It was also the day Lt. Col. Tom Brewer was caught in an ambush returning to base after training. He was shot six times. Three bullets were caught by his chest armor, but the others pierced his skin.
When Brewer and four other companions came under fire, they believed there were only two shooters. The decided to try to capture the men, but once they got involved in a close firefight, they realized there were actually 30 attackers.
"The first round that hit me wasn't a total surprise because I was probably going the wrong way, going into the sound of gunfire, but we needed to develop the situation, do something to keep them from getting away," Says Brewer.
For much of the 90-minute battle, Brewer was trapped by himself near the enemy. At one point, he took two bullets to the chest and was knocked down. An Al Qaida member came near him, most likely thinking Brewer was dead, but Brewer drew his M-9 pistol causing the man to run back into hiding.
When coalition back up arrived, Brewer and his men were able to capture over 20 men. They also found a large stash of weapons. Brewer believes the men were planning a much larger assault on coalition forces for the anniversary of the US bombings. He says fighting the ambushers probably saved a lot of lives.
Brewer is now home in Nebraska and returning to his old position working on drug trafficking within the National Guard.