JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas –
Former Soldiers who served with Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Sebban, an Army medic who was killed in action in Iraq 15 years ago, paid their respects March 27 at the building which is named in his honor at the Medical Education and Training Campus at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
The 16 retired service members were given a tour of Sebban Hall, Medical Instructional Facility 5, by METC Commandant Capt. Thomas Herzig. Sebban Hall was dedicated in June 2011.
Sebban, 29, was assigned to the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment (Airborne Reconnaissance), 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He died in Baqubah, Iraq, on March 17, 2007, from wounds suffered when a Vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, or VBIED, detonated near his unit.
Retired Army Maj. Brad Rather, who served with Sebban, said the group of former and retired service members who visited Sebban Hall were part of a unit reunion that was held in San Antonio during the weekend of March 26-27. He said the group presented six photos of Sebban to METC which have been placed in the building that bears his name.
The photos were mounted on the memorial wall on either side of Sebban’s portrait behind a wreath, a plaque honoring Sebban, the Silver Star citation of Sebban’s and other photos of him in the building. The wreath was placed several years ago by Rather and former Army medics who served with Sebban.
Rather, the Tactical Combat Medical Care Course contract program manager and instructor at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, was the battalion physician assistant during the time he and Sebban served together in Iraq, which was for nine months. The 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division was in the midst of a 15-month deployment when Sebban was killed.
“He was an awesome leader and just an awesome person,” Rather said. “He was all about teaching and mentoring young medics. He fit in really well.”
Before being deployed to Iraq in July 2006, Rather said Sebban had been in the Army Special Forces assessment selection, but eventually wasn’t selected for the Special Forces. But since he was an airborne qualified 68W (Combat Medic) he was transferred to the 82nd Airborne Division.
Rather said Sebban showed up with the unit weeks before they were to deploy and had only a short time to get familiar with the rest of the unit. But, Rather said, Sebban integrated with the unit quickly.
Sebban was killed in action when a dump truck containing an IED crashed into the wire surrounding the combat outpost he was stationed at. According to Rather, Sebban was in a gun truck inside the outpost when he saw the vehicle with the IED. He jumped out of the gun truck to warn someone about the IED and instructed them to get down, when the IED detonated.
As a result of the explosion, a piece of shrapnel went into Sebban’s abdominal and groin area. Despite this, he got back up and started treating casualties at the scene.
“That was his focus,” Rather said. “He was focused on patient care and taking care of his brothers.”
As a result of his injuries, Sebban collapsed while treating casualties. No one knew he had been injured and bleeding; he eventually bled to death.
Rather was at another patrol outpost several miles away when Sebban was killed. Earlier that same morning Rather had seen Sebban during a link-up operation near the As Sadah patrol base. Sebban had just found out he had been promoted to sergeant first class.
“We were all excited about his promotion and then about eight hours later he died,” Rather said.
Sebban was the only person at the outpost to be killed by the IED. If he would not have warned members of his unit like he selflessly did, other service members would have died, Rather said.
“He was a selfless person,” Rather said. “He would literally give you the shirt off his back to take care of you, take care of his Soldiers. He just had a desire to help people.”
Sebban was one of 22 service members in the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, who was killed in the line of duty during the unit’s 15-month deployment. He was one of two medics from the unit who lost their lives.
Rather thinks of his fallen warrior and brother every time he passes or goes to Sebban Hall and uses Sebban as an example to his students in his Tactical Combat Medical Care course about the importance of conducting good tactical field care, including hemorrhage control and doing thorough assessments of patients to find junctional bleeding in those areas which may get overlooked during initial interventions, such as the groin, head and neck.
“Those junctional wounds in the groin and neck, where you can’t apply a tourniquet are the things that are still killing soldiers downrange. Unfortunately, Ben was one of those,” Rather said. “So, I take that as a lesson from Ben’s death and I tell it to every single class that comes through here.”
Sebban is interred at Arlington National Cemetery.