OLOVO, Bosnia and Hercegovina – A U.S. soldier was in stable condition after being shot by an intruder Friday morning.
Spec. Shawn R. Austin, 21, was wounded in the upper left arm when he and his patrol partner surprised the intruder near a construction site on Base Camp Linda, a few miles outside Olovo.
He is the second soldier wounded by gunfire since the NATO Implementation Force moved into Bosnia. In January, and Army officer was grazed by sniper fire in Sarajevo.
Austin, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, out of Baumholder, Germany, was transported by helicopter to the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Bosnia, said battalion commander Lt. Col. Randy Anderson.
Austin, from Fort Lewis, Wash., and his partner were patrolling with night vision goggles about 1:30 a.m. Friday when they saw something moving near a perimeter fence. The fence surrounds an area where living facilities are under construction for the roughly 1,000 soldiers assigned there.
When one of the two soldiers shouted in Serbo-Croatian for the intruder to stop, the unidentified person began running. He then fired a shot, apparently from a handgun, that hit Austin.
Anderson said Austin fell and his partner ran to him to check his condition. Austin then sat up and fired 15 rounds at the fleeing intruder. His partner fired nine rounds.
There is no evidence that they hit the person, but U.S. authorities have notified local police and medical personnel to report anyone who seeks care for gunshot wounds. [It was a 432nd CA team that did the notifications. – ed]
A quick-reaction force based at the construction area and a medic reached Austin about 10 minutes after the incident. Within the hour, the soldier was on his way to the MASH unit.
The intruder may have been a civilian trying to enter the compound to take tools or fuel. Items such as hammers, wrenches and gasoline are in high demand in the area.
The incident comes at a time when tension in the area is relatively low. The camp, also called Lion’s Den, straddles what was once the front line of the Bosnian war. An American tank stands guard outside the camp and faces hills dotted with bombed out buildings. Mine fields are also nearby.
But no one has been shooting at these soldiers. In fact, Anderson said there had been no incidents of anyone trying to enter the camp since the perimeter was established.
As a result of the shooting, Base Camp Linda is under heightened security while investigators from the Army and the local area try to find the intruder.
“The soldiers are very concerned,” Anderson said. “But this obviously re-emphasizes the need for security awareness.”
Capt. Will Davis, the battalion’s civil affairs chief, said Austin and his partner did exactly what they should have done.
“Force protection is a key concern here,” Davis said. “They responded the way they are supposed to. They did their jobs.”
Stars & Stripes
March 16, 1996
|Not needed in Bosnia, nine 432nd members left in limbo||Soldier shot in arm by Bosnian intruder||Civil Affairs Team Bridges Language Gap|