Originally published in CBN News
The former Special Forces soldier who ran more than 100m under ISIS fire in Iraq to rescue a little girl said God’s Word inspires him to risk his life to save others.
Dave Eubank has become famous for the video and pictures of his heroic rescue earlier this month, but he gives all the credit to God.
“It was, I believe, God’s power that helped us rescue that girl … the American air dropping smoke, the Iraqi’s providing that tank and all of ya’ll out there praying is how it happened,” Eubank told CBN News.
Watch the full interview with Dave Eubanks below:
“I just said, ‘Lord help us’ and if I die my wife and kids would understand … it’s to save a little girl and I ran and I had to pull her away from her dead mother,” he said.
His strength and courage come from God’s Word, Eubank said.
“John 13:15 — hope I got that right — but I know the words though, Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay his life down for his friends.”
Eubank said God first spoke that Scripture to him when he was trying to save another child from ISIS.
“I thought, ‘I’m gonna get killed’ and that verse came to me. I thought, ‘Uh-oh, I gotta follow that order from Jesus’ and I was afraid, but God gave me strength and almost every day that verse kept coming to me,” he said.
He also has advice for overcoming fear.
“Whenever you’re afraid, you know we all get afraid, ask God ‘Should I do this?’ And, if the answer is ‘yes’ — from God, not our emotions — then ask for love because love will cast out fear.”
The little girl was hiding under her dead mother’s burka, surrounded by dozens of other victims of ISIS.
“ISIS fire was intense as we approached the huddled group of three survivors,” Eubank recalled in an Instagram post.
On June 1, Eubank, an ex-US Army Special Forces soldier, who runs a Christian humanitarian organisation called Free Burma Rangers, got a call from an Iraqi unit that was fighting ISIS on the frontlines west of Mosul, Iraq.
“They said civilians coming, a lot (of them) shot,” Eubank told CNN.
He and members of the Free Burma Rangers are in Iraq helping civilians flee from ISIS-held areas.
The team jumped into action after they got the call.
“We got there and a guy came crying, crying, he said, ‘My daughter was shot in front of me, her head was blown off,'” Eubank recalled.
The scene was horrific. At least 50 bodies lay massacred by ISIS fighters as they were trying to flee.
Eubank snapped a picture of the scene.
But moments after putting the camera down, he saw movement amongst the dead.
“We saw these 13 bodies and then we saw movement,” Eubank said.
He and his team were 150 yards away, but they were pinned down by ISIS fire.
“To escape meant a dash across open ground over-watched by heavy ISIS firepower,” Eubank described on the Free Burma Rangers’ website. “Our team could see that many had already been killed in the attempt but some were still alive.”
He knew he had to do something but also understood the risks.
“There was no way to help them even though they were only 150 yards away,” Eubank wrote. “They prayed and God opened a way.”
He put in a call to Iraqi and US military officials to see if they could help.
“We prayed and talked with Iraqi forces about how to do a rescue,” Eubank said. “We prayed more and called our American military friends.”
The help came. US forces supporting Iraqis with air assets dropped a curtain of smoke on their location giving them just enough time to dash across that 150 yards.
“ISIS fire was intense as we approached the huddled group of three survivors. They were in and amongst over 50 dead bodies spread out along the street — dead babies, mothers, and people of every age — and had been like this for two days in the blazing sun and ISIS shooting,” Eubank wrote on Instagram.
He says he called the military to drop more smoke to give them more cover against ISIS fire. Using an Iraqi tank for cover Eubank and his team moved in for the rescue.
“The Americans sent it right on target, helping to obscure us as the tank fired its main gun and machine gun back at ISIS. I prayed on when to make the dash from behind the tank to the people.”
He sprinted across that open ground to where all the dead bodies were laying. Then suddenly, a girl peeked out from underneath a woman’s dead body.
“I saw a little girl come out from under her dead mother’s hijab and we called to her and two men who were wounded and still alive yet unable to come,” Eubank recalled.
With girl in hand, he now had to make the mad dash across that 150 yards.
“She was screaming, unwilling to let her mother go,” Eubank told CNN.
Again, he called for more smoke.
“The Americans sent it right away again,” Eubank said. “I prayed and felt now or never and that if I died my family would understand that it was to save a little girl.”
“I ran as fast as I could, snatched up the little girl from her mother and the pile of dead bodies, and made it back to the tank. ISIS was shooting all the time but so was the Iraqi tank,” Eubank added.
Members of the Free Burma Rangers were also able to pull a man from the scene that day.
Both the girl and the man were then rushed to an Iraqi hospital and are recovering.
The next day, Eubank returned to the location and saved seven more people.
“More than 70 lay dead all around these survivors — men, women, children, elderly, crippled — no one was spared,” Eubank said.
Eubank’s wife, Karen, and their children, are also in Iraq helping those fleeing ISIS.
Karen Eubank sent CBN a picture of the little girl they rescued. She can be seen sitting on a bed watching CBN’s Superbook on a laptop.
“She spent that first night and next day with us,” Karen told CBN in an email.
On the Free Burma Rangers’ social media accounts, people responded with an outpouring of prayer and praise after the little girl’s rescue.
“Praying for your protection,” wrote Sam on Instagram.
“So much heartbreak,” wrote one follower. “Thank you for your courage and strength. You are always in my prayers.”
Dave Eubank ended his account of that day’s dramatic rescue this way:
“We thank God for American and Iraqi forces. A miracle, and I thank Jesus. Thank you for praying.”