By Lauren | Oct. 17, 2013 01:31pm
Staff Sergeant Thomas Baysore Jr., 31, died Thursday, September 26, in Paktya Province, Afghanistan. According to the Army, Baysore was killed when an enemy combatant wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, opened fire on a group of soldiers, striking Baysore on the left side of his neck.
Baysore, originally from Milton, PA is survived by his wife, Jamie Baysore, and their 5-year old son, Darren Baysore, of Clarksville, TN, his mother Sandra Hackerberg of Winfield, Pa, and his father Thomas Baysore of Milton, PA. This was Baysore's third deployment to Afghanistan.
Below is one of the last emails Thomas sent to his wife. He also forwarded the email to a woman named Jolene, who was Baysore's "Any Soldier Supporter", and was paired up with the sergeant through AnySoldier.com. She would send him care packages throughout his deployment which he would share with his team.
The email tells the story of how Thomas saved a 9-year-old Afghan girl's life, weeks before he lost his own:
August 1st, 2013
Well today started out pretty much the same as any other day deployed. My platoon started the force protection rotation, so we manned the 3 separate positions around the COP. Well, my evening shift started as SOG (Sergeant of the Guard). I am responsible for ensuring the Soldiers are doing the right thing on guard, getting them chow, or batteries, or anything else. As I was checking one of the positions I get a call from the ECP (Entry Control Point). It’s where all traffic in and out come onto the COP. The call said that there were 5 locals that needed to talk to an interpreter. I told them I’ll be there in a few minutes.
So, I pick up the interpreter on the gator and we head to the ECP. We start talking to some of the ANA (Afghan National Army) soldiers that were at the gate. They said there were two people hurt by an IED. When I get down to the local’s vehicles there were about 15 locals around. I am by myself, so I call to the ECP to send one of the two U.S. soldiers to me for added protection. SPC Giddens, one of my soldiers, meets me down at the vehicles. They told the locals to back away and I only needed one person to inform me of the situation. The gentleman informs me that a 9-year-old girl is injured. She is laying in the back of one the vehicles. So, again I push the locals away for my own security and start to lock at the girl. I see that her face is somewhat messed up. There's a lot of blood, but no missing facial features (which is good). However, her right eye looks bad, and damaged in some way. I asked for permission to assess her wounds being that she is young and female. Afghans can be pretty funny about their own people. I get permission. I start checking the parts I can see, since they have her covered by some blankets. Her legs wear bloodied but I don’t see anything major yet. I asked the local what other injuries she has. He told me her arm is gone. I said what do you mean “gone”. I asked if it was recent or something that happened a while ago. He told me it was the IED. That’s when they moved the blanket. Her right hand and part of her arm were gone. She just had two bones sticking straight out at me about 3 to 4 inches.
So I say to myself “tourniquet!" So I get the tourniquet on and start to tighten it. Now, remind you this girl has been laying in the back of the car not really moving or making many sounds. I tightened that tourniquet and this girl springs to life. I just caused this little girl some excruciating pain. I get the tourniquet on and finally secured. Then I start triaging the rest of her. I pull her pant leg up and find two quarter sized holes in her left inner thigh. I immediately get another tourniquet from SPC Giddens. I Place the tourniquet on her upper thigh next to her hip. This time I tell the interpreter to tell her “this is going to hurt, but I’m trying to help her." The same thing happens again and the tourniquet causes her a lot of pain.
Then I wanted to address the two quarter sized holes in her thigh. The holes were very deep and muscle tissue was coming out of one of the holes. I ask SPC Giddens for an Israeli bandage to put on her. He reaches in his aid pouch and grabs one and I place it on her thigh.
At this point I start making radio calls to the TOC (Tactical Operations Center), in this case, the company HQ, informing them of the situation that I have at the ECP. Now, new “policies” state if we did not cause the injuries, we cannot treat unless it involves life, limb, or eye sight. This girl had 2 of 3 just lying in front of me. Not to mention we do not know how long it has been since she was injured. I did notice an IV bottle (yes, bottle not a bag, weird huh) and an IV line going into her arm. So, I asked where she got this and they mention some village but they said they couldn’t do anything else for her there. I look at the bottle and realize it is a “lactated ringer” which is used for burn patients and casualties with loss of blood.
So, I go back to reporting as much information to the TOC so they could let the aid station know what is about to be at their front door in a matter of minutes. I then pick the girl up out of the car place her in the back of the gator, tell SPC Giddens to drive and the interpreter to ride in the passenger seat, while I crouch in the back with the girl. As I’m riding in the back, the ECP is relaying my radio traffic to the TOC with his radio, since they could hear me on mine.
Once, I start getting closer to the point I know the TOC can hear my radio calls. I start giving them more details on the patient.
“9 year old girl, one tourniquet on amputated hand and forearm, one tourniquet on left thigh with an Israeli pressure dressing, right eye damage and small wounds to her face and left leg. And a bottle of 'lactated ringer' being pushed."
We stop outside the aid station to pick her up with the blankets she came on and place her on a litter and carry her into the aid station. At that moment, I already knew no matter what I’m not going to leave this girl’s side. Even once we got her on the table and started treating her, I was there assisting the PA and the other medics on treating her. It was like it was unmentioned knowledge that I was not leaving. I start breaking down all her injuries by precedence to the PA and then assisted them in re-checking her complete body for additional injuries. We cut her clothes off and roll her to check her back for any other wounds. She is clear, which I already knew because I checked her in the car. But they are doing their protocol. Then they push additional fluids into her. Her blood pressure is extremely high; she has lost a lot of blood.
The PA wanted to place a tourniquet a little closer to her amputated forearm, and then take off the one I placed. So a medic and I attempt to place one lower, and as he was tightening it he realized that he was about to break one of her bones in her forearm just from tightening the tourniquet. He informs the PA, so they decide to use the tourniquet I placed since it was doing the job just fine.
Since, I placed the tourniquet on her leg first then placed a Israeli pressure dressing the PA decided to loosen the tourniquet but leave it in place. At this point we are trying to get our battalion to send the 9-line MEDEVAC request up to brigade so we can get a bird to come pick her up. Well, the request goes all the way up to Division; we wait for approximately 45 minutes to an hour for the approval. I am literally staring this girl in the one eye that still is working, waiting for her to die in my arms. We continue to dress her wounds. I grab her arm, the medic grabbed gauze and started wrapping. I then move up her arm and grab her (what used to be muscle and probably pieces of her hand) and hold them around her two exposed bones. We finish wrapping and the good thing I noticed after awhile of waiting for the approval, was that her amputated arm was barely bleeding. I think there was only a silver dollar sized blood stain though the gauze. That meant that my tourniquet was working well.
I then start to clean off her face and notice that her teeth are broken and chipped or straight missing. I look into her mouth and see pieces of her teeth floating around, so I tell the interpreter to tell her to “stick her tongue out” so I can grab the pieces. I pulled two big pieces of her teeth out of her mouth. The other medics are starting to dress the smaller wounds on her left leg. Her blood pressure is really high, so using the interpreter, I start talking to her. Asking her name, what she learns in school, what games she like to play. She then tells me that she just wants to go home, because if she doesn’t get home soon that her brother will be very mad at her. I place my hand on her chest and tell her that we need to fix her boo boos, before she can go home. I also tell her that her brother won’t be mad and that she is being very very brave. I mean this girl’s face is littered with small pieces of shrapnel, missing her hand and teeth, and all she can think about is getting home so her brother won’t be mad. We asked her numerous times, if she was in a pain and she kept telling us, “no." Here is the main issue, we get her stabilized, blood pressure down and I am keeping her awake and calm. However we don’t have any blood here at COP Wilderness because we are only a Level One aid station. A Level Two has the blood, but she needs a MEDEVAC helicopter to come get her because it would take at least three hours by road, by that time she would be dead. So, as I’m talking with her I asked if we can be friends. She says yes. I asked her how can we be friends if she doesn’t even know my name? She asked what my name was, and I tell her Baysore. I said to her, once she get better that she need to come back on visit me since we are now friends. She said she would. One of the medics goes into a back room and finds a small teddy bear and gives it to me. I show it to her and said, “This is for you, since you are being so brave”. I then ask her what we are going to name it.
One of the hardest parts was trying to talk to this little girl that doesn’t speak my language, trying to keep her calm so she doesn’t go into shock worse than she already was. I am literally inches away from her face, staring her in the eye, saying soothing things and saying her name. In the back of my mind I am wondering if the authorization will be given to MEDEVAC her out or not. And if not how I am going to sit here and stare a 9 year old girl in the eye and watch her die.
Finally authorization was given. We wait another 10 minute and we get told “wheels up” (which means the medical helicopter has just taken off and enroute to us). I start to tell her what is about to happen. The helicopter is coming to pick her up to take her to another place to get her boo boos fixed. And not to be scared that her friend was going to be here for her. I tell her about the helicopter and how loud it is and to be brave. We put her teddy bear into a zip lock bag so it doesn’t get anymore blood on it, and I tell her to take good care of her bear. I then put the bear under the protective blanket.
The MEDEVAC bird is 8 minutes out. We then move her outside and prep her to be loaded up. I again continue to assure her that she is fine and everything will be ok. The bird lands, the medics brief the in-flight medics on her condition; I load her into the bird and tell her one last time while looking into her eye, that she will be ok!!
As the bird take off, I realize I have no clue if she will be ok or not! She lost so much blood by the time I got to her. And we were not able to give her any.
An hour ago, after I took a shower to try to get the blood off of my hands, I stopped by the aid station and asked if they had her any reports of her condition.
She immediately went into surgery when the bird landed and was given a pint of blood. (for a child her size and age, a pint of blood is a lot). I then waited for about 30 minutes or so, talking to the medics about the event, hoping I could get another update before I left.
Marjanna made it out of surgery and is in stable condition. She had her arm surgically amputated and a lot of stitches to her face and leg. She still has to go to another hospital to have eye surgery which she will probably lose. But she made it! She made it to a hospital and is in stable condition!! Marjanna, I’m glad you are my friend and I’m glad you were strong enough to fight for your life.
Today was one day that happened that was very painful, trying, and affected me and Marjanna greatly, but it happened so I can, hopefully soon, look my son in the face and tell him exactly why his daddy couldn’t be with him for that long period of time. His daddy helped a little girl get her boo boos fixed so she could go home to her family.
I wrote this a few hours after it happened to try to deal with that days events and to be able to share with my wife. I just thought I would share them with you.
SSG Thomas Baysore" — at Afghanistan.
Thank you for your service, SSG Baysore. Your sacrifice will not be forgotten.