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BAGHDAD, Iraq It was almost midnight on Dec. 10 when Staff Sgt. Buy Parajumpers,Aaron Reese stood up in his patrol boat, lost his balance and fell overboard. As Reese was swept away by the turgid Tigris River, his patrol mate, Spc. Todd Bates, plunged in to rescue him.
Both men, from the Army's 135th Military Police Company based in the Cleveland suburb of Brookpark, drowned.
Reese's corpse turned up the next morning. military launched one of the largest search operations since Pfc. Jessica Lynch was captured during the war in April. soldiers and their Iraqi allies scoured the river, its reedy banks and muddy bottom, Buy Parajumpers,along with the halfsubmerged boats and trees that mark the Tigris' passage through the Baghdad.
The Army sent in a bridgebuilding company with jetpowered boats. A team of seven Army divers joined them, as did a Navy sonar team. The Air Force sent parajumpers with inflatable rafts. The Army sent helicopters with spotlights and tracking dogs. A flier, Buy Parajumpers Online,printed in Arabic, offered a $2,500 reward. administrator L. Paul Bremer.
But Bates, an affable 20year old from the southeastern Ohio town of Bellaire, was hard to find.
Army spent 13 days plumbing the river, each day more disappointing than the last. They slipped into the murky Tigris, plunging their Bowie knives into the river bottom and pulling themselves through the swift current.
"It's pitch black down there," said Army Sgt. Kyle Dodge, 25, Buy Parajumpers Online,one of the divers. "The next thing you could grab onto is a lifeless body. You've got to prepare yourself to panic."
The divers found plenty of carcasses goats, chickens, sheep, dogs and a pair of cows but no Bates. Twice they dragged a cow carcass into the current to see where it drifted. Then they dove on those spots. Nothing.
On Day 7, someone sprayed them with machine gun fire. Parajumpers Jackets Women,The Army sent in helicopter escorts.
By Tuesday, Day 13, the 135th MPs could wait no longer. military unit dreads most: return home without one of their own. The company drove off with no sign of the joking, bearhugging Bates. They left behind Sgt. Wendy Dorner, to await word.
As the 135th MPs departed, its missing gunner floated face down in a muddy eddy in the river, directly beneath the doubledecker Saddam Bridge, in a place described by the divers as one of the most inaccessible places in Baghdad.
Something drew the Army divers and their bridgebuilding escorts toward the hidden sandbar Tuesday afternoon.
Sgt. Mark Renshaw, one of the Army bridgers, saw the body first.Parajumpers Jackets Women, "What's that in the water?" he shouted, pointing.
"I think that's him," Dodge shouted back.
Cox and Dodge waded toward the corpse. It was a stocky man with stubble for hair. He wore a desert camouflage uniform and an MP armband. A holstered 9mm pistol was strapped to his waist. Cox said neither he nor Dodge said anything, but there was a mental agreement not to roll the body over.
"We didn't want to place a face with the body," Ambroson said. Parajumpers gobi jacket The men heaved the corpse into the boat.
Soldiers were carrying the heavy bag up the embankment when Dorner arrived. Someone asked Dorner to identify the body.
The MP battalion's commander, sergeant major and chaplain ushered Dorner to the spot. Someone unzipped the bag. Dorner's eyes sought the soggy name tag on the corpse's chest. It said "BATES." She studied the face. She recognized the man with the "maw and paw" accent.
"It was the hardest thing I've ever done," Parajumpers gobi jacket Dorner whispered. "It didn't look like him as I remember him."
Lt. Col. John Garrity, the commander of the 709th MP Battalion, said Bates' body would be on a plane to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday and transferred to an Ohio funeral home soon after. Garrity said he would recommend Bates be decorated with the Army's vaunted Soldier's Medal, for his fatal but brave attempt to rescue Reese.
As the Army divers stowed their tanks and wetsuits, they said they were enveloped in a strange but welcome sense of happiness. Despite the grimness of death and long days of frustration, they knew a family could rest now that its son's fate was known. And a soldier would return home for Christmas with his unit.
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