Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bart E. Womack says it was golfer Tiger Woods who saved his life when a grenade landed at his feet.
Womack was stationed in Kuwait before the coalition’s invasion of Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein from power in 2003.
He said he was awake in the middle of the night because he is a golf fan. Woods was competing in the Bay Hill Invitational, and Womack knew a campaign was coming, so every swing could have been the last one he would see for a long time.
Then it happened.
“As I concentrated on Tiger’s swing and listened for the sweet THWACK of a ball, I heard the tent flap flutter again and a scraping sound as something rolled toward me,” he writes in his new book “Embedded Enemy: The Insider Threat.”
“The hand grenade rolled between Tiger and me, resting at the tent’s edge,” he reports. “It is amazing how quickly thoughts can ping through your mind. I knew grenades only took five seconds to blow, and I think I wasted two seconds coming to the shocking realization of what was happening.”
Without his desire to watch golf, he said, he would have been asleep when the grenade rolled in.
The attack was carried out by one of his own, Sgt. Hasan Akbar. Born Mark Fidel Kools, Akbar is a Muslim.
He turned off the power to the military compound then lobbed grenades into a couple of tents occupied by American soldiers.
Army Capt. Christopher S. Seifert and Air Force Maj. Gregory L. Stone were killed, Akbar was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, although his case is still under appeal.
Womack’s book is a warning to America to be on alert for enemies within.
“I would like to think Fort Hood might not have happened if the book’s message had been out earlier,” he said.
That was when Maj. Nidal Hassan, another Muslim member of the U.S. military, pulled his weapons, shouted ‘allahu akbar” and shot and killed a dozen members of the military stationed there.
“My point is to be aware of our surroundings,” he said.
Watch for a change of habits, a shift in attitudes, disposing of belongings or acquisition of weapons.
“There are signs. When someone gets in their mind they’re going to do something like this, everything has to change,” he warned.
He stays away from blaming religion
In the March 23, 2003, attack at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait, 14 soldiers also were injured.
“Fueled with disdain for the country in which he was born, Akbar … joined the Army and turned on his fellow soldiers during wartime,” he said.
Akbar tossed the grenades and then, as trained, “followed up with small-arms fire.”
The fallout was that Americans felt less safe and became more careful about whom they trust, he said.
He told WND that such attacks are particularly unexpected from a member of the military, who has sworn an oath to follow the Constitution and defend his or her fellow soldiers.
Womack is the recipient of two Bronze Stars, including one for valor. He was in the Army for nearly 30 years.