A former special forces operative who now works as an aid worker was recently caught on camera braving the Islamic State gunfire in the open in order to save a little girl in Mosul, Iraq.
David Eubank, 56, is founder of the Free Burma Rangers, an organization dedicated to assisting pro-Democracy groups in conflict zones such as Burma or Iraq with highly trained, highly mobile, multipurpose relief teams. These teams deliver food, clothing, water, and medical care where they are dispatched and where other organizations don't have the skill to go.
Eubank, who is also a husband and father of three, was a member of the First Special Forces Group. According to the Los Angeles Times, Eubank joined the special forces team when he was 18, but after 10 years decided that he needed “the freedom to go where God was leading.”
The Times reported that when a Burmese Bible group asked Eubank's Christian missionary parents for help, they turned to their son.
“The Burmese said they were a warrior people, and they needed someone like that. My parents called me up and asked what I thought,” Eubank said. “I figured I could go and even if I helped only one person, at least they would be happy and I would be happy.”
After a while, the Times reported, Eubank and his wife Karen moved to Burma full time where he founded FBR.
Over the last two years, FBR has focused its efforts on assisting those who are affected by the Islamic State, deploying with Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Mosul, and delivering aid in places ravaged by jihadis such as Syria and Iraq.
“This is one of the starkest and most desperate situations in the world. And with ISIS, it doesn’t feel melodramatic to say it’s evil,” said Hosanna Valentine, 37, a longtime member of FBR.
The heroic efforts of Eubank and FBR in Iraq saving the little girl were caught on video. According to the Times, prior to the video's start, Eubank noticed movement among a group of corpses against a wall that was pocked by bullets. A toddler was stumbling over the bodies, and girl peeked out from under the hijab of her dead mother.
The video begins with Eubank and two unidentified Iraqi military members taking cover behind a tank as close gunfire can be heard. Eubank leans out to survey the scene, then quickly runs out into an area littered with corpses. As Iraqis lay down cover fire, Eubank snatches up a 5-year-old girl and quickly returns with the child under his right arm.
The Times described the scene in further detail:
The Iraqi troops Eubank was embedded with coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition to drop smoke canisters to shield the rescuers from the snipers’ view. Eubank and others crept up on foot behind an advancing tank, bullets pinging all around them as they got closer to the wounded civilians.
“Then the Americans dropped the biggest barrage, the most perfect wall of smoke I’d ever seen,” Eubank said.
His team was yards away from the girl, and there still “was shooting everywhere.” But it was now or never.
“I thought, ‘If I die doing this, my wife and kids would understand.’”
(Content warning: This video contains graphic imagery):
Eubank reportedly went back for the toddler as well, but sadly he could not locate the child and was unsure if he was killed.
According to Eubank, the work he does is driven by his Christian faith. On the FBR website, Eubank quotes Luke 4:18, which reads: “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
“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,” he said.