Close Call For Sand Springs Soldier In Iraq

Thursday, November 2nd 2006, 10:22 am
By: News On 6

In Iraq, the difference between life and death can be measured in footsteps. When a soldier was killed Monday during a house search, a Tulsa woman says her boyfriend was in the very next room.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg has more on this soldier's close call. Maddie Cartwright says she has some kind of communication with her boyfriend, US Army Private First Class Mike Wayne of Sand Springs, nearly every day, so when she didn't hear from him on Monday, she feared the worst. "The first day, whenever I hadn't heard from him, I knew something wasn't right."

Then she didn't hear from him at all on Tuesday. Finally on Wednesday, she says she got word what happened. "They just do patrols. They have to search for money, weapons, etc. Whatever they're not supposed to have."

She says Mike and his friend, Sgt. Kraig Foytek were doing house to house searches in an upper class Baghdad neighborhood where there hasn't been much trouble. Mike told her that Kraig led the way, when he encountered the son of the Iraqi family and ordered him to show any weapons.

For reasons that Maddie says still aren't clear, the son shot and killed Sgt. Foytek. She says the US soldiers backing up Sgt. Foytek then shot and killed the son. "Mike was in the next room. He says it happened in 10 to 30 seconds. He says by the time he got to the next room, everything was done and over with."

Maddie says she doesn't know how Mike's combat team decides who goes first in the room. But she wonders what if it had been Mike or if the son had been in Mike's room instead of the other room. "Ever since then I just want him home. I want all of them to come home safe. I mean, Kraig was just talking to people two days before it happened, and people were expecting him to come home. And now he's not."

She says she's frustrated by the lack of progress in Iraq. "They're there to do a job and do what they're told, and they hope to make a difference, but right now, they're realizing there's not much change."