first published on July 23, 2020 by Will
Funker530 received exclusive footage and narrative from former US Navy SEAL Ephraim Mattos documenting his intense involvement with the Free Burma Rangers as they worked fearlessly to rescue imperiled civilians trapped in the hellacious battle for Mosul.
On June 2, 2017, former US Navy SEAL Ephraim Mattos was shot in the calf by ISIS while volunteering as a civilian medic in the clearance of West Mosul alongside the Iraqi Army’s 9th Armored Division.
He was wounded during a suicidal rescue mission into ISIS controlled territory where several Iraqi civilians were trapped in a pile of corpses who ISIS had massacred the day before.
The rescue of a little Iraqi girl and the moment Mattos was shot, was caught on camera. Until now, we’ve only had grainy snippets of this footage.
In the early morning hours of June 2, 2017, Mattos was working alongside the aid group Free Burma Rangers — who have been descibed as “Doctors without borders, with machine guns” — when he and the rest of the team discovered the site of an ISIS massacre.
Besides the former US Navy SEAL sniper, the team of Free Burma Rangers also included former US Marine Sky Barkley, and was lead by former US Army Special Forces and Ranger David Eubank — the founder of the Free Burma Rangers.
The team of Free Burma Rangers conducted a reconnaissance of the ISIS massacre site and quickly discovered multiple Iraqi civilians still alive in the piles of scattered corpses. They counted two wounded men and four young children trapped and on the verge of death. Despite the deadly odds, the team decided they had no choice but to make a rescue attempt.
Hours later, the Iraqi Army finally agreed to send the team of civilian volunteers with one Iraqi Army Abrams tank. This delay resulted in the deaths of three of the four children, who succame to the blistering desert heat before the team could even launch their mission.
US military commanders — now aware of the massacre — agreed to fire an artillery smoke screen to cover the team and their advance directly into ISIS territory.
With the American smoke screen raining down in front of them, Mattos, Barkley, Eubank, Mahmoud (a Syrian interpreter), and “Monkey” (a cameraman from Burma tasked with documenting human rights abuses) ran behind a single Abrams tank straight into ISIS territory in a desperate attempt to rescue the three civilians still alive.
ISIS fighters in the surrounding buildings caught glimpses of the team through the smoke and immediately opened fire with automatic weapons and mortars.
Upon reaching the objective, Mattos and Barkley laid down covering fire straight into ISIS positions as Eubank ran to retrieve the only surviving child — a little girl.
Mattos, Barkley, and Eubank then ran out together to retrieve two wounded Iraqi men. The team then began to make their way back to Iraqi Army lines with their three patients while the Iraqi Army tank blindly backed up toward them.
While moving back toward Iraqi Army lines, one of the critically wounded Iraqi men fell off a makeshift litter the team was using. The reversing tank barely missed crushing the wounded man, but it did not stop for the team to retrieve him.
Moments later, while a cameraman filmed from the rubbled buildings, Mattos was shot in the right calf, sending him to the ground. He, too, was almost crushed by the reversing tank, but his team screamed at him to get up.
Mattos continued moving back with his team while attempting to apply a tourniquet to his right leg, but he wasn’t able to tighten it down all the way.
Upon arriving very close to Iraqi Army lines, the team realized they would be shot to pieces if attempted to move the patients across the last stretch of open ground. The team screamed over the roar of the gunfire and the tank engine for the Iraqi Army to send a humvee to extract the team. But no one could hear them.
Quickly losing blood and knowing his team would die if a humvee didn’t arrive quickly, Mattos volunteered to run across the open ground and carry the message that the team needed a humvee.
On his wounded leg, Mattos ran across the open while ISIS snipers opened fire and attempted to shoot him a second time. He reached the Iraqi Army lines and delivered the message that the team needed an armored humvee.
Bernard Genier, a French journalist who had just learned how to drive humvees the day before, jumped into an armored humvee and drove out into the street to rescue the rest of the team.
The Free Burma Rangers team successfully rescued one Iraqi man and one little girl whose name turned ourt to be Demoa. “Demoa” means tear in Arabic.
Ephraim Mattos teamed up with Scott McEwen (Co-Author of AMERICAN SNIPER), to write about his journey from the US Navy SEAL Teams to the frontlines of the war on as ISIS as a civilian volunteer.
Mattos and McEwen’s book is called CITY OF DEATH: HUMANITARIAN WARRIORS IN THE BATTLE OF MOSUL.
Currently, Mattos operates Stronghold Rescue & Relief, a charity organization providing medical assistance and training in global hotspots to include Burma and Venezuela. He also produces a podcast called Clarity and Chaos, which focuses on geopolitical turmoil.