U.S. Army Sgt. Darryl Wallace says he forever will remember Spc. Doug Spaulding of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C.
"I wouldn't be standing here right now if it wasn't for Spc. Spaulding," said Sgt. Wallace, who lost both legs in an IED explosion in June 2007 while fighting in the Afghanistan War. "He saved my life."
Sgt. Wallace, who grew up in McDuffie County, personally thanked Spec. Spaulding for his brave and courageous act during a special ceremony honoring Sgt. Wallace at Fort Gordon on Nov. 24.
"I was just doing my job," Spec. Spaulding said during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "I believe he's very fortunate to have survived. God gave him the strength to fight through. I'll never forget Sgt. Wallace. He was a very good soldier and a good friend, too."
It marked the first time the two men had seen each other since the explosion.
"I'm so glad he (Spec. Spaulding) was able to come to the ceremony," said Sgt. Wallace prior to the ceremony. "It really means a lot to me that they allowed him and several other friends of mine to come down here to Fort Gordon."
Sgt. Wallace was driving a humvee, occupied by three other soldiers, in an undisclosed location in Afghanistan on June 9, 2007, when he ran over an IED that blew the armored vehicle up. Sgt. Wallace, who at the time was a private, was critically injured while the other three soldiers weren't hurt as badly. Ironically, one of those soldiers was Spc. Spaulding.
"I was sitting right behind Sgt. Wallace at the time of the explosion," recalled Spc. Spaulding, who joined the U.S. Army in 2006 after graduating from Bluffton High School in Bluffton, S.C., the year before. "I dislocated my left hip and injured my left foot."