Faith carried Marine through suicide bomber attack


After a suicide bomber slammed his truck into the transport vehicle she was riding in, Sally Saalman Mosby saw the white light.


She blacked out and time froze. In that moment, she had a conversation with God.

“I said, ‘God, I’m not ready to go yet,’” the 34-year-old Leopold woman recalled in a phone interview Sunday. “I said, ‘I’ve got things to do.’ I wanted to see my family again and I wanted to be able to do something with my life.”

Moments after being catapulted from the 32,000-pound armored truck, the former Marine was on her feet and walking when she came to. Six Americans — three women and three men — died in the attack. Some survivors lost movement in their arms. Mosby was left with burns, a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She went through hell in Iraq, but she wasn’t the only one. And a decade after she left, she has no regrets and would do it all over again.

“I don’t regret, personally, going to Iraq,” she said. “I think God has a plan for all of us, and we were meant to go over there and help people. Of course, I got blown up in the process. But I’m alive and I’m happy that I’m alive.”

Mosby will share that story and more of her experiences as a female Marine at a Will Read and Sing for Food benefit on Tuesday at Sultan’s Run Golf Club. She will also sing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "America the Beautiful" at the event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show will begin at 7 p.m.. Admission is $10, and all proceeds will go to libraries in Jasper, Dubois, Ferdinand and Birdseye.

At the time of the June 2005 bombing, Mosby was in charge of a unit of 20 female marines that searched female Iraqis at checkpoints when they entered the city of Fallujah, Iraq. The Female Search Force was part of the effort to respect Iraqi culture, which strictly separates men and women.

She ended her active service in the Marine Corps in 2008 and misses it every day. She would have served for 20 years if she wouldn’t have been injured in the bombing. But she’s built a good life in the years since, meeting her husband, Aaron Mosby, and working on the couple’s Leopold farm.

“I just want people to get that they need to be positive no matter what happens to them,” she said. “And they can’t hold on to the things that happen to them. They have to move on and live their lives. You can’t hold on to the past.”

When she thinks back on the day of the attack, she remembers seeing her boots fly up in the air after the explosion before blacking out and later awakening in a daze. That fog was just like the kind you see portrayed in war movies — her ears rang, sounds were muted and her world slowly faded back into focus.

“The story is pretty intense,” she said. “It gets brought up quite often, and it’s a little bit hard to talk about sometimes.”

She said she knows God saved her life that day, and she also knows that she’s alive for a reason. She did a second tour in Iraq following the attack before stepping away from the Marines, during which she saw firsthand how the Marines' influence helped people and bettered their lives.

Mosby’s family boasts a long military lineage. Her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and many more relatives served in various branches of the military. She grew up looking at pictures of and admiring her grandmother, Agnes (Laurent) Saalman, who was a World War II Army nurse.

Mosby heard war stories and loved old war movies her whole life.

While she was attending Perry Central Junior-Senior High School, Mosby and her best friend, Rachel (Herzog) Ortega, enlisted around February 2002 and Mosby went to boot camp in September.

While at motor transport school at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, former President George W. Bush declared war on Iraq.

Mosby wasn’t scared. She was sad the country was going to war, but she was ready.

She stressed that the military exists to protect all Americans, not just the government and politicians. She also emphasized the importance of faith. She is Catholic.

“The best thing for me is my faith, my animals, my husband and my family,” she said. “They’re very supportive, and they’ve always been there for me. Some people aren’t that lucky.”

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