85ºF

American contractor from San Antonio narrowly escapes attacks from insurgents in Iraq

Anthony Akers escapes Iraq after ISIS insurgence

SAN ANTONIO – Anthony Akers was met with a warm embrace and tears by his wife and two children, ages 2 and 4, at San Antonio International Airport on Monday. 

It was a moment Akers' wife, Kayla, thought may never happen after a phone conversation days earlier, in which Akers had told his wife he loved her.

"(It was) the kind of 'I love you' someone says when they know they're not going to make it," said a teary Kayla Akers. "It was bad."

Akers, a civilian contractor, had spent the past few months in Iraq, as a K-9 handler, responsible for locating explosives.

It was a week ago when the militant group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, began to power their way across the now-unstable country.

"We heard that ISIS took Mosul, Tikrit," said Akers.

The next stop was presumed to be Balad, where Akers was stationed. Americans at Joint Base Balad, which now belongs to the Iraqi Air Force, were told they had 48 hours to get out. 

While some families were able to leave, Akers chose to stay behind to protect those who could not. A former marine, Akers had previously served two tours in Iraq. 

Eventually, it would become too dangerous to leave.

"None of the pilots wanted to come in or the Iraqi government said it was too dangerous to go in," said Akers.

To make matters worse, according to Akers, the security forces for his company had quit. That left the battle-tested Marine, along with the other K-9 handlers, to prepare for battle as the base soon became the target of small arms fire. 

"It would have been a good fight," he said. "There was a lot of them."

The insurgents would come up to the gate of Joint Base Balad, according to Akers. ISIS had already left a trail of destruction in Iraq.

"Al Qaida does not even claim them because they are too violent," said Akers.

The insurgents, however, were eventually turned away by another group of civilians. Iraqi villagers in the area, a Shia majority, came out of their homes to fight the Sunni extremists.

Akers credits this action for saving lives of those at the base.

"If they weren't there and they didn't step up, (ISIS) had no resistance," said Akers. "They would have come right on base. I guarantee as soon as they saw Americans, they would have (taken advantage) of the opportunity at hand."

Happy to be alive, Akers was eventually rescued by Iraqi Air Force. 

As for going back, Akers said should duty call, he will return to finish the mission.

For a list of recent stories Justin Horne has done, click here.

Click here to view more videos on KSAT.com.


About the Author: