Stalked in Shower, Fredonia NY Soldier Captures Rapist
Spc. Heather Lemanski, Company E, 3-142 Assault Helicopter Battalion, New York National Guard, had just returned from block leave when she was informed of a recent attack on a female Ugandan guard while in the shower.
Concerned for her safety, Lemanski’s husband suggested she carry a knife and pepper spray with her when she went to shower.
Taking his advice, the Fredonia, N.Y., native made it a point to have both items with her; a decision that may have possibly saved her life and earned her recognition from Command Sgt. Maj. Frank Grippe, Multi-National Corps-Iraq, during his battlefield circulation May 15.
Upon entering the shower, Lemanski heard someone come into the trailer after her.
“I didn’t hear another shower start, so I called out to see if anyone was in there,” she said. “No one answered.”
With a knife in one hand and a can of pepper spray in the other, Lemanski began checking each shower. Soon she found herself face-to-face with a male Soldier, dressed in his army combat uniform, crouched in another stall.
“I managed to restrain him, and I called out to a sergeant passing by to notify the [military police],” she said.
Once in custody, the Criminal Investigation Command interrogated the Soldier and discovered that he was responsible for other assaults, including the incident involving the female Ugandan guard, and had planned to overtake and assault Lemanski after she exited the shower.
“I did what I had to do, and didn’t think twice about it,” she said.
Captivated by her story of courage, Grippe made it a point to find Lemanski during his visit.
“When I heard her story, I knew that I had to meet this woman,” he explained. “She is a true American… and because of her situational awareness she was able to avoid a very dangerous situation.”
As Lemanski recalled the incident to Grippe and various Soldiers from the 41st Fires Brigade, Fort Hood, Texas, shock spread across their faces and gasps were heard all around.
Grippe told the Soldiers that part of his intent during the trip was to make Soldiers aware of the dangerous they may face on a daily basis. With male-on-male sexual assault up 12 percent, he put emphasis on battle buddy teams and maintaining situational awareness at all times.
Lemanski’s encounter is just one example that could be used to highlight the importance of the Army combatives program, Grippe said.
“There is no reason to have blue-on-blue sexual assault,” Grippe said. “It needs to stopâ€”bottom line up front.”
Story by Sgt. Lindsey Bradford
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