Surviving An IED — Four Times

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soldier that missed being killed by an IED in Iraq
CBS

Spc. Jordan Spurlin from Eagle River, Alaska, has been driving a Humvee in Baghdad for 10 months. He calls it "my truck."

"I had pictures up, but I started to get 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 correspondent Allen Pizzey reports.

He showed Pizzey some of his routes in Baghdad.

"This is the same area where they got hit with the IED yesterday," he said

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

"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 actual 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 all right,' I'm 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 all right, and then I look at everybody else in the truck and say 'are you guys all right?' and everyone is fine."

The tape shows what happened next.

"Everybody all right?" 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."

"Damn, my gun is dirty."

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

"That's 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 be the last time I'm going to 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 and just do it."

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