Manning the .50 cal

It was a routine convoy from the 5th Zone to Camp Spann to Camp Marmal after a work day of mentoring my Afghan public affairs counterpart. Although I technically was stationed at Camp Spann, I wasn’t staying on post that day and was planning to return with the advising team to their post, Camp Marmal, because I had another mission with their team scheduled the next day. Our stop at Spann was only to drop off our interpreters and to catch a quick lunch before heading back to Marmal. Continue reading

The Shrine of Massoud

Last night, while watching the playback of a National Geographic program I had DVR-ed, I watched a brief minute of footage that sent shivers up my spine and sent my mind racing with thoughts of an experience I had in Afghanistan last year. The recorded two-hour program made an attempt to explain the key players and the chronological events that lead up to the horrific terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Enveloped in emotions of frustration and anger, I sat on the edge of my couch, listening to the ominous words of the narrator and glaring at flashing array of photos of the terrorist pilots who would go on to kill nearly 3,000 Americans. Continue reading

Becoming mission ready

I had been awakened off and on throughout the night to sounds of beds squeaking and doors occasionally being slammed. Voices from individuals who just didn’t care whether the rest of the tent was asleep or not, resonated like the siren from a fire truck in a holiday parade. I threw my warm, fuzzy dark brown blanket towards the end of the bed and sat up slowly and hunched as to not hit my head on the upper bunk. I was lucky to have found a bottom bunk with the number of female Soldiers that filtered through the musty, overused tent. Bottom bunks were commodities. Bottom bunks near power sources were deemed prime real estate, beach front property. Continue reading

The Blackout Challenge

I challenge you to go “Blackout”. Could you do it? Are you mentally strong enough? What if you didn’t have a choice?

One year ago, on April 4, 2012, I returned to post from a three-hour video and photo shoot out on the landing zone. Immediately after I made my way through the entry control point, I was met by a staff sergeant who looked quite relieved yet quite frustrated to see me.

“Where were you?” he asked. Before he gave me time to respond, he quickly followed with, “Where’s your boss?” I promptly explained to him where I had been and that my officer in charge (OIC) was not too far behind me.

Curious as to why he needed to know by whereabouts, I respectfully asked him what was going on that he needed to know.

There had been an attack near one of our combat outposts in the western end of Regional Command – North and we had Soldiers that were either killed, injured, or missing. The attack had just been reported and details had not come in yet. Continue reading

In The Truck Commander’s Seat to Chemtal – The Conclusion

I can only speculate but I’m pretty sure the biggest question on my men’s minds was whether or not we would take contact on the way back up the road. The road that we had traveled to get to Qal-e Khowsouddin was the only road we could take to get back to the ABP checkpoint. We had been at our location for more than an hour and that was plenty of time for insurgents to set up an ambush or to place an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the road. Continue reading