Soldier Amputates Own Leg To Save His Crewmates
An American soldier is being praised for his bravery after he heroically amputated his own leg to save the lives of his crewmates.
Ezra Maes, 21, was sleeping in a tank as part of a NATO overnight training exercise in Poland last year.
But he woke with a start when the vehicle suddenly started rolling downhill at 90mph - and, terrifyingly, none of the brakes were working.
Maes and the rest of the crew went through all of the emergency procedures to try and bring the tank to a halt, but nothing worked.
As the tank picked up speed, it slowed slightly after hitting some trees and eventually crashed into an embankment.
Maes, driver Victor Alamo and gunner Sgt. Aechere Crump had all braced themselves for impact.
Alamo broke his back after his head smashed through the driver's hatch, while Crump ruptured her femoral artery and was bleeding heavily.
Maes was thrown across the tank and his right leg became stuck in the gearing under the tank. Trying to twist himself free to help the others, all of a sudden he felt a tearing sensation - only to realise his leg was completely detached.
Maes, who is from Colorado, told Fox News he felt a 'pop and a rip' and initially just assumed a piece of his uniform had torn off.
He said: "I pushed and pulled at my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear.
"I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone."
Quickly losing blood, Maes managed to get himself over to the back of the tank to reach a medical kit, which was when he realised he had to 'step up' or they would all die.
The tank's communication was down after the crash, but Maes' phone miraculously survived the impact and suddenly began to ring, revealing its whereabouts.
Out of reach, Maes had to get Crump - who had a 'nasty-looking cut on her inner thigh' - to toss the phone over to him so that he could contact a friend and tell them their location.
"Once they found us, it turned into a bunch of big jokes and laughs," Maes continued.
"We were so happy to be getting care, and that we weren't dead."
Eventually the three were taken to hospital, with Maes currently waiting to be fitted with a prosthetic leg while undergoing physical and occupational therapy.
Despite the horrifying ordeal, Maes believes that it's probably the best thing that's ever happened to him.
He said: "I'll probably say that for the rest of my life.
"Every day I wake up and look at it, and I remember how close I was to losing it all. And I'm still here.
"I managed to survive, and this is just the scar I walked away with."
Featured Image Credit: Corey Toye/DIVDS