Move over Audie Murphy and Chuck Yeager — this new hero guy has a story to share! This 21-year-old army specialist severed his own leg to save crewmates after the tank they were in had an accident.

Army specialist Ezra Maes and two other crew were asleep inside a tank after a week-long training exercise in Slovakia last year. What happened next is the stuff of legends. Maes and others woke up to the tank careening downhill.

"I called out to the driver, 'Step on the brakes!'" Maes said. But the driver replied that it was not him. It turned out that the tank's parking brake had failed. The crew then proceeded with emergency braking procedures, but a hydraulic leak had rendered the operational systems useless.

The 65 ton M1A2 Abrams tank kept rolling at 90 miles an hour, and Maes and his buddies could only wait and brace for the impact.

When the tank eventually crashed into an embankment, Maes was slammed across the vehicle and his leg was caught in the turret gear. Gunner Sgt. Aechere Crump was bleeding from a cut on her thigh; Pfc. Victor Alamo, the driver, had a broken back.

Maes pulled with all his strength to free his leg when he felt a "sharp tear." He said as quoted in a report, "I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone."

A lesser mortal would have passed out then. But Maes's army training kicked in, and despite the massive blood loss, he had the presence of mind to apply a belt tourniquet to his leg and try and call for help.

The crew tried to use the radios to signal for help. The tank communications were not working. By divine intervention, Maes' phone had survived the crash. And fired off a text message before passing out.

Maes' last memory was his sergeant major running up the hill carrying his leg on his shoulder. But it could not be reattached owing to the severity of the damage.

He was later flown to a local hospital and then to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and then on to BAMC. He went on to spend four months in intensive care. 

As if it was even possible, the story has a fantastic ending. Specialist Maes is now undergoing physical and occupational therapy. He is currently assigned to the Brooke Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

ezra-maes-rehab-3000 Candace Pellock, physical therapy assistant, guides Army Spc. Ezra Maes at the Center for the Intrepid, Brooke Army Medical Center’s rehabilitation center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Oct. 2, 2019. Photo: Corey Toye, U.S. Army