03/06/05 — Goldsboro soldier, cited for bravery, returning to battle front in Iraq

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Goldsboro soldier, cited for bravery, returning to battle front in Iraq

By Turner Walston
Published in News on March 6, 2005 2:07 AM

After a brief visit home, Sgt. Montreil Sanders returned to Fort Hood, Texas, last week.

And then it's back to Iraq.

Sanders, who graduated from Goldsboro High School not quite three years ago, is about to begin his second tour of duty in the Middle East.

He already holds the Army's Silver Star for heroism in combat and a Purple Heart for being wounded in action and was featured on the cover of ARMY magazine.

He says he hopes the U.S. will soon be able to pull out of Iraq but that the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps has a lot of work to do before U.S. forces can leave.

Sanders, the son of Walter Sanders Jr. and Felicia Walker of Goldsboro, is a member of the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Hood. He finished a thirteen-month tour just last month.

Last summer, his tank crew was called upon to support a 1st Cavalry Regiment patrol that had been ambushed by Iraqi insurgents.

"We went down there, and everything was blown up," Sanders said. He said the attackers were remnants of Saddam Hussein's militia.

"They had rpgs (rocket-propelled grenades), AK-47s, shotguns, 9mms, and grenades," he said. "Nothing too fancy."

Exposed to enemy fire in one of the tank's hatches, a round hit Sanders in the left arm. The bullet entered at the shoulder and exited just as quickly. In the excitement, Sanders said he didn't realize he had been shot until his tank returned to base to reload several hours later.

"I was like, 'Okay, it's a bullet hole. Just put a band-aid or something on it,'" Sanders says. He and his tank crew then returned to the firefight, which lasted over 16 hours.

Three months after his injury, Sanders was awarded the medals at the First Armored Division 'Welcome Home Ceremony' in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Sanders returned to Goldsboro in February. He stayed home for two weeks before heading back to Fort Hood on Tuesday. He said he expects he'll be back in Iraq before long, possibly for a 12-to-18-month tour.

For Sanders, the battlefield in Iraq is a long way from Goldsboro High School, where the shy student played three years of football. In spite of the medals and recognition, he refuses to pat himself on the back, saying only that, "It's a job."

When his military duties are completed, Sanders said he plans to attend college in Texas.

For now, though, it's back to work. Back to the battlefield.