Surviving An IED — Four Times

Spc. Jordan Spurlin from Eagle River, Alaska, has been driving a Humvee in Baghdad for ten months.

He calls it "my truck."

"I had pictures up, but I got homesick so I took them down," Spurlin said.

Like every one of the tens of thousands of U.S. troops who roll down Iraq's roads every day, he knows he's a target, because he's already been hit four times, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

He showed Martin some of his routes in Baghdad.

"This is the same area where they got hit with the IED yesterday."

Seventy percent of U.S. casualties in Iraq are caused IEDs, the roadside bombs that continuously mutate and evolve into more powerful and deadly forms.

Hidden in garbage piles, dead animal or trash, they can be detonated by remote control, trip wires and timing devices — every soldier's recurring nightmare.

"It's real nerve wracking the night before you have a mission going to sleep," he said.

Spurlin has a Purple Heart — and a unique perspective on the war.

With the help of a home video he can tell you exactly how it looks and feels to be a millisecond from death.

"You're scanning so hard on the road, you're just focusing so hard on the road," he said.

And suddenly the view goes blurry.

"Right when it hits, you feel a blast wave come across you," he said. "And then you hear the sound, then you hear the explosion itself."

Then, Spurlin explained, your head gets blown back.

"You're looking away, and all the time you're thinking I hope I'm alright, like really terrified to look to the left, that's where my door is, because I'm thinking my door is gone," he said. "Then I look over and my door is fine, and then with this hand I brush down my entire body and make sure I'm alright, and then I look at everybody else in the truck 'are you guys alright?"

The tape shows what happened next.

"Everybody alright?" a soldier says.

"Go, go," another shouts.

"Whooo-ooo!" was another reaction.

And then greatest adrenalin rush of all — the profane joy of being alive.

"Whew! I have a f---ing headache right now."

"God dam-, my gun is dirty."

"They broke my f---in' mirror, sons of b----es."

"That motherf---er was loud!"

"Hey, that's four," Spurlin realizes.

It's what Shakespeare was talking about when he wrote of "a band of brothers" — you only understand it if you been through a battle and survived.

But it is also a very personal and lonely thing.

"At nighttime, like I said, when I'm in the shower, I'm like is this going to the last time I take a shower? You know if I have a mission the next day," he explained.

So how do those who have to run the roads and risk the IEDs cope with the knowledge of what awaits them every morning?

"I can't let it cripple me with fear. Everybody's afraid," he said. "You just have to go out there and just do it."

And 24-year-old Spc. Jordan Spurlin has just re-enlisted.