It was a “heart-in-the-throat” moment when an aid worker ran through a hail of bullets in Iraq to save a young girl’s life.
In June 2017, the then-56-year-old David Eubank, a former U.S. Special Forces-soldier-turned-aid-worker, rescued a 5-year-old girl, Demoa, in the war-torn northern Iraqi city of Mosul after he saw a group of civilians being gunned down by the Islamic State snipers.
— David Eubank (@DaveEubankFBR) May 20, 2017
Eubank, wearing a helmet and a bulletproof vest, made a dash for Demoa, who had been clinging on to her dead mom, lying among dozens of decomposing bodies for two days.
While he courageously risked his life running through bullets to save Demoa, two of his colleagues provided covering fire with machine guns.
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Eubank had spotted another toddler and an injured man too but was unsuccessful in finding the toddler after rescuing the young girl. The injured man was rescued but did not survive.
Footage of the heroic rescue went viral and put the incredible work of Eubank and his humanitarian group—the Free Burma Rangers—in the spotlight.
“If you’re not moved by that you need a heart transplant,” Col. Oliver North, the president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), told CBN News, alluding to the video.
Eubank set up the Free Burma Rangers in 1997 after retiring from the U.S. army.
“The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement working to bring help, hope and love to people in the conflict zones of Burma, Iraq, and Sudan,” the Free Burma Rangers states on its website.
Eubank didn’t think twice about his own safety. “I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand,’” he told the Los Angeles Times in an interview.
— David Eubank (@DaveEubankFBR) May 26, 2017
He took his wife and three children aged 11 to 16 with him to Mosul after hearing the horror stories of ISIS’s treatment of civilians. The children were homeschooled by his wife during that period.
“I believe God sent me here, and I don’t think about security… but I always ask myself if I’m doing it out of pride,” Eubank, a devout Christian, said.
Speaking to CBS News, he said: “And I remembered this scripture, ‘Greater love has no man who laid down his life for his friends.’”
We’re a little late, but Happy New Year from our family! May God bless you and keep you in the year to come! pic.twitter.com/Xis4wIMgio
— David Eubank (@DaveEubankFBR) January 11, 2019
Shortly after the dramatic rescue, Eubank returned to the United States.
In November 2017, Eubank made a trip back to northern Iraq to reunite with Demoa, who was taken care of by her grandmother and aunt.
“Her grandmother started crying saying ‘thank you, you didn’t just save her life, you saved my life, because I would have nothing left if I lose my granddaughter,’” Eubank said in a video uploaded to the Free Burma Rangers Facebook page.
Having met the child he saved, his “heart feels full.”
“When I saw Demoa again and I got on my knees and thanked God I thought ‘I feel complete,’” Eubank said.
“My heart felt full and I was grateful for this new chance at life,” he continued.
Back in Iraq and got to meet up with civilians rescued from ISIS fire in 2017. Now we get to call them friends. pic.twitter.com/WxzVIgvBqn
— David Eubank (@DaveEubankFBR) May 29, 2018