U.S. Special Forces veteran runs through ISIS gunfire to save young girl

A former Green Beret-turned extreme aid worker is answering the call to duty in Iraq- albeit in a different way.

Born in Texas, 56-year-old former US Army Special Forces member David Eubank was formerly a member of the 1st Special Forces Group, primarily running missions in Central/South America and Thailand during his military service.

In 1992, the devoutly-religious Eubank decided to leave the military after nearly a decade of service, claiming he wanted “the freedom to go where God was leading.”

After enrolling in a seminary course, he met his wife-to-be, Karen, and was called upon by his parents- who had received contact from a Burmese Bible group that required his special skills.

“The Burmese said they were a warrior people, and they needed someone like that. My parents called me up and asked what I thought,” said Eubank. “I figured I could go and even if I helped only one person, at least they would be happy and I would be happy.”

With Karen by his side, the duo eventually settled down in Burma, forming a special missions humanitarian group known as the Free Burma Rangers, or FBR. The organization specializes in providing aid in places other humanitarian groups are unable or too afraid to go.

While his operation originally began in Burma, Eubank’s FBR began operating in Iraq and Syria, often deployed with the Kurdish Peshmerga in war-torn cities like Mosul and Kobani.

“This is one of the starkest and most desperate situations in the world. And with ISIS, it doesn’t feel melodramatic to say it’s evil,” said FBR member Hosanna Valentine at the medical clinic of the Iraqi 9th Division. “One of the first things David does is apologize to people for what America did here. Not all of it was wrong, but some of it was. So we come and help not from a desire to have control or use the resources. If you go act out of love, that can be life changing.”

Eubank himself has risked the possibility of death in order to save helpless civilians swept up in the turmoil of war.

Near the ruins of Mosul’s old Pepsi factory, Eubank caught sight of a pile of bodies, individuals who had been executed by fleeing ISIS forces.

There was a woman sprawled on her face. Dead,” Eubank said. “A baby, all shot up. Dead. Near them, two old people. Dead. And then you realize all those lumps of rags were kids. Dead dead dead.”

Suddenly, Eubank noticed three survivors- a wounded man, a toddler and a 5-year-old girl.

Braving sniper fire, the Special Forces veteran moved quickly to retrieve the imperiled civilians. Coordinating with US-led coalition troops, Eubank used cover from armored vehicles and smoke screens to get where he needed to go.

“The Americans dropped the biggest barrage, the most perfect wall of smoke I’d ever seen,” Eubank said.

Despite the smoke screen, Eubank was still exposed to torrential amounts of gunfire- knowing he could be killed, he made peace with the possibility of death and surged forward.

“I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand.”

An understatement, to say the least, when one learns that Karen and their three children -aged 11 to 16- were living a mere mile from the front line of Mosul, with Eubank’s wife homeschooling their kids in an active warzone.

“It’s not like we thought 25 years ago, ‘Let’s take our kids to a war zone with ISIS,” Karen said. “But in Burma the people we worked with poured love into us, and this is more than what I can give my kids on my own.”

Not far from their offsprings’ classroom, their father had just committed a heroic act-under fire, armed only with a holstered Glock, a heart full of faith and iron resolve.

His act of courage was caught on film- however, Eubank was placed in a more teeth-clenching situation shortly after. When it became apparent that a more survivors were in and around the Pepsi factory, Eubank sneaked into the factory -still held by ISIS fighters- and rescued a small girl.

“We could hear ISIS guys talking near us, and we were stepping all around empty soda cans… it sounds like a movie,” said Eubank.

Despite his heroism, Eubank is rather humble about the whole situation.

“I believe God sent me here, and I don’t think about security… but I always ask myself if I’m doing it out of pride,” he told the LA Times.

Not long after the rescue, Eubank and his family packed up and headed home to the US. Despite returning to a land of relative peace, he still thinks about going back- after all, there is still plenty of work to be done.

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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