They tried makeshift ways of strengthening the vehicles' flimsy undersides. "We filled the floorboards with sandbags as much as we could, except for the gas pedal and the brake," he said. "You know, you have to operate the vehicles."
The efforts didn't stop the grenade that ripped through the opening between the gas pedal and the brake — and ripped away most of Hurt's right leg. "It just kind of bounced on the road, and I just drove over it and it exploded," he recalled.
His father, Larry Hurt, a veteran himself, was surprised when he visited Derrick at a military hospital to find so many other soldiers who also were wounded in their unarmored vehicles. "Burn victims, loss of hands, lots of other injuries, too," he remembered. "It really brings it home to you walking down the halls."
Local citizens, hearing of their plight, donated money, and a local steel company offered to turn 12,000 pounds of raw steel into armor custom-fit to their trucks — free of charge.