By Brett Gillin
“Hero” is a part of the job description when you join the bomb squad, but once in a while, you hear the story of a hero-among-heroes. This week’s Fearcrusher, Sergeant Bobby Whitley, has just received the Medal of Valor, distinguishing him for his actions, but we at The Bright are wondering if the Medal of Valor is enough. After hearing the story of what Sgt. Bobby Whitley did, we imagine you’ll be wondering what other praises we can possibly heap on a man of such courage.
Sgt. Bobby Whitley has been a law enforcement officer for nearly 20 years. In those years of serving the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department in North Carolina, there is little doubt that he has seen his share of interesting things. But there is simply no way he could be prepared for what he saw recently. In fact, Sgt. Whitley calls it the strangest experience of his entire career.
Sgt. Bobby Whitley recently removed an IED from a man’s neck. Not shrapnel, mind you, but a full, unexploded bomb that was lodged in a man’s neck. The man, who has yet to be publicly identified, apparently shot himself in the neck with a homemade improvised explosive device. After being found unconscious and rushed to the hospital, doctors and ER staff realized what they had on their hands, and quite simply declined to operate on the man.
This is where Sgt. Whitley stepped in. Once Doctors and several ER employees evacuated, Sgt. Whitley entered and went to work. Without wearing a stitch of his normal protective gear, Sgt. Whitley performed the delicate surgery on the unconscious man to remove the unexploded device from the man’s neck. Fifteen minutes later, with the help of some trusty forceps, the device was out of the man and into the hands of an explosives expert.
“It was stuck, so working it out. I didn’t want to do more damage than had already been done,” Sgt. Whitley told WSOC TV in Charlotte.
As it turns out, according to this story in ABC News, that the explosive device was a “rifle bullet, homemade, sealed with marble, which was impaled in the right side of his neck,” according to the trauma surgeon who assisted Sgt. Whitley during his surgery.
So to summarize, Sgt. Bobby Whitley, who presumably has very little to no formal training in an operating room, took off his “Bomb Squad” hat for a little while to place the “Life-Saving Surgeon” cap. Then, after safely removing an unexploded IED from a patient’s neck, he calmly diffused the bomb and went about the rest of his day. That, dear readers, is the very definition of a Fearcrusher.