Afghanistan War: Hobbyists’ Toy Truck Saves 6 Soldiers’ Lives
Staff Sgt. Christopher Fessenden is on duty in Afghanistan now after tours with the Army in Iraq. He has traveled with standard-issue equipment — weapons, helmet, uniform, boots and so forth — plus a radio-controlled model truck his brother Ernie sent.
The truck is not a toy to him. He says it just saved six soldiers’ lives.
"We cannot thank you enough," said Sgt. Fessenden in an email from the front that Ernie, a software engineer in Rochester, Minn., shared with ABC News.
The little truck was used by the troops to run ahead of them on patrols and look for roadside bombs. Fessenden has had it since 2007, when Ernie and Kevin Guy, the owner of the Everything Hobby shop in Rochester, rigged it with a wireless video camera and shipped it to him.
Last week, it paid off. Chris Fessenden said he had loaned the truck to a group of fellow soldiers, who used it to check the road ahead of them on a patrol. It got tangled in a trip wire connected to what Fessenden guesses could have been 500 lbs. of explosives. The bomb went off. The six soldiers controlling the truck from their Humvee were unhurt.
"Monday morning, Ernie comes running into my store and says, ‘You’re not going to believe this,’" said Guy, recounting the story in a telephone interview.
"I got an email from [Chris] that said, ‘Hey, man, I’m sorry, but the truck is gone,’" said Ernie, admitting he still found it all pretty hard to believe. "The neat thing is that the guys in the Humvee were all right."