U.S. troops apparently abandoned a truck convoy after it came under insurgent fire, as seen in a video obtained by ABC News. Two unarmed Halliburton truck drivers were executed at point-blank range once the troops left and another by sniper fire at the beginning of the attack, according to a surviving driver, Preston Wheeler, of Mena, Ark., who taped the scene.
The Army says the troops on the scene reacted appropriately and did not abandon the convoy.
Here is their full statement released today:
"There was an investigation conducted immediately following the attack that was concluded about a month after the attack. The investigation documents the actions of individuals prior to and during the convoy, and following the attack until the quick reaction force (QRF) arrived. The investigation documented that the individuals at the front of the convoy reacted as they were taught by pushing forward and getting out of the kill zone of the ambush. What is not visible in the video being shown is that they collected the casualties they could reach and laid down suppressive fire with their weapons to help get those vehicles that could move from the front of the convoy out of the kill zone. Once they were out of the kill zone, they set up security, called for the QRF, called for close air support, called a medevac for the casualties, and directed the movements of other gun trucks further back in the convoy. They helped direct two gun trucks, as well as a recovery vehicle, to maneuver up to two of the KBR vehicles that had wounded civilians in them and extract them. They were able to retrieve the wounded civilians from their vehicles while under enemy fire. During the entire time, the convoy was attacked with a heavy volume of small arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and hand grenades. Attack aviation arrived on scene approximately 20 minutes after the start of the attack. The ground QRF arrived on scene approximately 30-35 minutes after the start of the attack. The actions of the unit saved numerous lives during this attack. The investigation actually recognized the valorous actions of one Soldier and one civilian and recommended they be submitted for awards commensurate with their actions. At no time did any individuals abandon the convoy. They fought back bravely while waiting for reinforcements and attending to the casualties. We grieve the loss of any life, and what happened that day was tragic. But the events had the potential to be even more tragic, with an even greater loss of life, if not for the actions of members of that unit."