One EOD Soldier Pulls Grenade From Man’s Leg

Staff Sgt. David Mensink became an explosive ordnance disposal technician to help “directly defeat our current enemy’s weapon of choice.”

That doesn’t cover removing a g renade from the thigh of a man outside a Birmingham, Alabama, hospital.

That’s where Mensink was on Oct. 11, escorted by police to a cordoned-off street and the ambulance containing the patient and the explosive.

The man, who was not identified, told authorities he’d been tinkering with the ordnance at his home the night before when it activated and lodged in his leg, Dave Hyche, a Birmingham supervisor for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said in an Associated Press report.

The Birmingham hospital was the second that denied the man entry, fearing an explosion. The call went out to Mensink’s unit — 789th EOD Company at Fort Benning, Georgia — for help identifying the device.

“From the initial X-ray, it looked like a 40mm grenade,” Mensink, 27, said in an Army news release.

The 1 a.m. consultation became an invitation: Mensink’s team left Benning at 4:15 a.m. and reached the scene two hours later, according to the release.

Mensink, who has taken part in 180 EOD missions and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, arrived to find the grenade lodged next to the man’s femoral artery.

Disarming ordnance is one thing, but surgery is another — Mensink got an assist from a doctor and two paramedics. After a quick incision, Mensink removed the grenade and the paramedics rushed the man to the hospital.

The device turned out to be an M713 smoke grenade — the red variety — and the priming charge could’ve been fatal, given its location, had it gone off, Mensink said. The man, who was in his 60s, suffered no permanent damage, according to officials. Hospital officials did not release his name, and law enforcement personnel did not immediately say how the man acquired the grenade.

Sgt. Johnny Lowthorpe and Spc. Brandon Fair rounded out the EOD team on the trip, with Sgt. 1st Class Tyron Mathews, the senior EOD duty officer, according to the release.

The 789th is under the 184th EOD Battalion, 52nd EOD Group, part of the 20th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosives Command, which tackled more than 2,000 explosives-related domestic incidents in fiscal year 2014, the release stated.

Few required plucking ordnance from a person’s thigh. “It was definitely a first,” Mensink said. N

— Staff and wire reports

Staff Sgt. David Mensink and his team received a police escort from Georgia to Birmingham, Alabama, on Oct. 11 to remove a grenade from a man’s leg.

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