Ezra Maes, 21, lost his leg in a freak accident. Picture: Defense.gov
Ezra Maes, 21, lost his leg in a freak accident. Picture: Defense.gov

‘Hero’ soldier amputates own leg

WARNING: Graphic

A US soldier is being hailed as a hero after he severed his own leg to save his crewmates during a freak accident, officials say.

While deployed to Poland last year, Army Specialist Ezra Maes, 21, was sleeping in a tank as part of an overnight training exercise when he was jolted awake by the machine rolling downhill, according to the Department of Defence.

"I called out to the driver, 'Step on the brakes'," Mr Maes said.

"But he shouted back that it wasn't him."

The crew initiated emergency brake procedures, but nothing would stop the tank as it sped down the hill at nearly 145km/h.

Mr Maes said he felt ‘super lucky’ to be alive. Picture: Defense.gov
Mr Maes said he felt ‘super lucky’ to be alive. Picture: Defense.gov

"We realised there was nothing else we could do and just held on," Mr Maes said.

The tank ultimately crashed into an embankment, sending Mr Maes flying across the machinery and leading his leg to get caught in a gear.

Fearing for the rest of the crew, Mr Maes was determined to free his own leg.

"I pushed and pulled at my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear," he said. "I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone."

Despite bleeding heavily, Mr Maes rushed back to the tank to grab a tourniquet from the medical kit.

"All I could think about was no one knows we're down here," he said.

"Either I step up or we all die."

The young soldier is now recovering in the US. Picture: Defense.gov
The young soldier is now recovering in the US. Picture: Defense.gov

After performing lifesaving measures on himself, Mr Maes called out to another soldier, Sergeant Aechere Crump, whom he had to throw his phone to.

He unlocked his phone and sent a text to a friend in order to get the crew help, he said.

Mr Maes was rushed to a local hospital before he was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre in Germany.

He has since returned to the US for treatment at the Brooke Army Medical Centre Warrior Transition Battalion in Houston, Texas.

Doctors were unable to save his leg, but Mr Maes said he was grateful that he survived the terrifying episode.

"I feel super lucky," he said.

"My crew all does. So many things could have gone wrong.

"Besides my leg, we all walked away pretty much unscathed."

This article originally appeared on the New York Post and was reproduced with permission


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