On April 7, he also helped save the life of a 3-year-old Afghan boy who had fallen 30 feet into a well in Afghanistan’s Maiwand province.
Rangel, who was one of several members of Courage Company on hand, oversaw security and crowd control while the rescue effort was under way.
“I was happy when the boy was rescued, mainly because it helped us build a relationship with the local nationals,” Rangel wrote in an email Tuesday, April 16.
Rangel, an infantryman who has served in Afghanistan for five months, is the son of Juan and Maria Rangel of Patterson.
Pfc. Rangel’s group carried out the effort with the help of Afghan soldiers on a standard patrol, who were alerted to the trapped child when they passed the well and saw a large group of people gathered around it.
Though U.S. Army officials are unsure of the depth of the well, it had a diameter of 20 inches at the surface and narrowed as it went deeper.
Initially, rescuers planned to lift the boy free with a rope, but the boy was scared and confused and did not understand what to do with the lowered rope.
When that did not work, Courage Company decided to bring out a backhoe to dig a vertical shaft close to the well and tunnel across to reach the boy.
After six hours of digging late into the night, the Afghan soldiers pulled the boy out of the well through the shaft they had created.
The child grabbed onto the lowered rope when a Courage soldier, through an interpreter, suggested he put it on his arm like a bracelet.
The boy, placed into the arms of his father, was later examined by an Afghan medic and found to be uninjured.
The Americans and Afghans all worked hard together, Rangel said — despite speaking different languages, everyone knew what to do.
Spc. Thomas Wirthlin, another Courage Company infantryman, said that after about seven inches, digging through the soil was like digging through concrete. However, the group was committed to rescuing the boy, even if doing so took days, Wirthlin said.
“It was our pleasure to go out and help the locals face to face,” Wirthlin said. “It is great getting face time this way instead of just asking questions about the Taliban.”
•Editor’s note: Capt. Jennifer Dyrcz writes for the Department of Defense. This article was run with permission from the DOD.
• Irrigator Editor Jonathan Partridge contributed to this report.
• Contact the Irrigator at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.