updated 2/3/2006 9:20:47 PM ET 2006-02-04T02:20:47

The first soldier to check on ABC anchor Bob Woodruff after he was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq said that “my initial assessment of him was that he was dead.”

First Sgt. John McFarlane of the Army’s 4th Infantry Division was one of five soldiers honored Friday by ABC’s “World News Tonight” as its “persons of the week” for helping to save the life of the broadcast’s co-anchor last Sunday.

The ABC newscast also played the last pictures taken by the cameras that accompanied Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt on their fated assignment. Neither camera showed the blast, ABC said.

Woodruff and Vogt were both being treated Friday at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. “World News Tonight” co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas said both were improving.

Both Woodruff and Vogt were standing up in the hatch of an Iraqi mechanized vehicle on patrol north of Baghdad Sunday when the explosive device went off. Woodruff’s Iraqi translator was in the vehicle and pulled the anchorman back in.

‘Blood was dripping inside’
“I saw Bob’s face hanging from the hatch and the blood was dripping inside,” said the translator, who was interviewed in shadows and not identified at his request for safety reasons. “I pulled him in and tried to reposition him on his back.”

McFarlane entered the vehicle to check Vogt and Woodruff, yelling out to Maj. Bill Taylor that “they were bad,” Taylor said.

Both Woodruff and Vogt were evacuated by helicopter to a military hospital nearby in 24 minutes, ABC said.

The newscast saluted Taylor; McFarlane; the interpreter; Staff Sgt. Glenn Young; and the unit’s commander, Maj. Michael Jason.

“They would tell you that they were just doing their soldierly duty,” Vargas said. “But in doing so they remind us again what a remarkable group of people can accomplish under the greatest of pressure and we are grateful.”

Face and shoulders exposed
Earlier, ABC played snippets of the story that Woodruff was working on before being injured. He wanted to show how the war was going from the point of view of Iraqi soldiers on patrol.

Woodruff was shown wearing a helmet and body armor. His face and shoulders were exposed; he suffered shrapnel wounds to the head, a broken collarbone and broken ribs.

Before the blast, Vogt’s camera was showing a picture of an Iraqi soldier. The camera pans down and the picture turns black. Similarly, a second camera mounted on the vehicle also stopped filming.

“It is likely the force of the blast disabled both cameras,” said ABC’s Dan Harris. “You cannot hear or see anything else on either tape.”

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