FORT LEWIS, Wash. - It took Sgt. Michael Espejo Jr. a moment to realize that the injured Afghan policeman he was dragging away from a burning truck was no policeman at all.
He had one of the man's arms draped over his shoulder and felt an odd bulk under his Afghan National Police shirt. Some new body armor, maybe?
And then he noticed the wire coming out of the sleeve and the switch device in the man's hand.
A suicide bomber -- in his arms.
"I threw him off of me, and started backing away from him," Espejo recalled Monday.
He and another Soldier took turns falling back and covering each other, yelling at the man in English and in Pashto to put his hands up.
There were four other U.S. Soldiers, a couple of State Department agents and a number of Afghan policemen all within range of the ball bearings, nails or whatever else might come flying out of the bomber's vest.
Espejo kept moving back. The man didn't seem to be all there. And when he started moving his hands together to work the switch, Espejo shot him dead from about 30 yards away.
"It all happened in a matter of seconds," he said.
On Monday, the Army presented the 26-year-old Fort Lewis military policeman with the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for combat valor. (READ MORE)
June 23 in U.S. military history
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