By Phillip Valentine, Staff Sgt., U.S. Army –
It’s the battlefield scenario that every Soldier trains for.
For Col. Brad Wenstrup, a combat veteran who served 14 months as chief surgeon at the Abu Ghraib prison hospital, years of training kicked in when the gunfire erupted. In an instant, he was faced with a casualty situation and more than a dozen lives at risk, including his own.
“My time in the Army Reserve has provided me the ability to remain calm,” said Wenstrup. “I needed to stay calm. I knew what I need to do and I knew that I could do it.”
They were far from the battlefield on that early morning of June 14, 2017. Wenstrup, a representative from Ohio in his civilian life, had joined fellow members of the congressional republican baseball team, in Alexandria, Virginia, for a practice game. It was on this otherwise idyllic start to the day, that a man, armed with a rifle and a handgun, walked up to third base and opened fire on the players. Standing at second base, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise was the first struck. He fell to the ground, unable to move as his body went into shock.
“As I lay on the ground, I could hear the gunfire going back and forth, but I couldn’t see the shooter,” said Scalise.
Despite the barrage of bullets flying, Wenstrup remained on the field. As Capitol Police and Scalise’s security detail engaged the gunman, the shooter, undaunted, continued firing toward the dugout, Wenstrup knew that Steve needed help.
“I had to get out there, but I know I cannot just run out there, this guy is just firing down my lane. I knew not to be stupid and get hurt. Who would help then,” said Wenstrup. ” I didn’t have cover, but time was of the essence.”
Once the shooter was subdued, Wenstrup rushed to Scalise’s aid. His initial assessment and immediate treatment of the gunshot wound was, by many accounts, life-saving.