RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany – A group of 14 American soldiers injured by an errant U.S. bomb in Afghanistan were flown to a military base in Germany Friday. They followed the arrival the day before of two soldiers who were killed in the incident.
The special operations troops' C-141 plane touched down at Ramstein Air Base shortly after 9.45 a.m., and its crew flew an American flag from a hatch behind the cockpit as it taxied toward a waiting ambulance and two buses.
Maj. Bill Bigelow, a spokesman for U.S. European Command, said they were flown from Oman. Fourteen soldiers were brought off the plane — 11 on stretchers and three of them walking. Military officials had originally expected 16 soldiers, and it wasn't immediately clear whether more would be arriving.
The group was taken to the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where another soldier, who arrived Thursday, had underwent hours of surgery. That soldier was in intensive care Friday.
The identities of the soldiers weren't released, and military officials had no immediate information on their condition.
Late Thursday, a plane arrived at Ramstein carrying the remains of two Army Green Beret soldiers, along with those of a Navy soldier who died in an unrelated accident on his ship.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory, 32, of Massachusetts and Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser, 28, of California were two of three soldiers killed Wednesday when the one-ton bomb, intended to hit Taliban forces making their last stand near Kandahar, landed about 100 yards from their position. Six Afghan anti-Taliban fighters also died, and a total of 20 U.S. soldiers were injured.
Three anti-Taliban fighters critically injured by the bomb were operated on for a second time Friday aboard the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea. They were among nine Afghans evacuated to the U.S. warship, which is equipped with medical facilities. It is carrying Marines to replace those on the ground in Afghanistan.
The first operations were performed shortly after they arrived on the ship Thursday, said Capt. Benjamin Newman, the senior Navy doctor on the ship. He did not describe their conditions.
"Some of these patients have reached the maximum care that we can provide. They are going to need long-term care, and we are not prepared for that," said Newman.
In Germany, members of an Army and Navy honor detail carried the three flag-draped coffins one at a time down the ramp of the C-141 plane that brought them to Ramstein.
Other members of the 40-strong detail saluted, presented arms and held aloft the U.S. and service flags as the coffins were driven slowly away to the morgue at the Landstuhl hospital.
All but three of the Americans wounded in the bombing accident were evacuated from the scene, first to a U.S. Marine base south of Kandahar and then out of Afghanistan. U.S. Central Command has said the injuries to the 17 taken outside of Afghanistan "vary from moderate to severe."
It was unclear when the remains of those killed would be flown home and whether the remains of the third U.S. soldier killed, Master Sgt. Jefferson Donald Davis, 39, of Tennessee, would be brought to Germany.