Sunday, October 16, 2005

 

Intensity

A close friend of ours has a family member in Afghanistan, and had a first person account of one of the recent suicide bombings there. (Apparently the Taliban are adopting some of the more media-attracting tactics from Al Qaeda in Iraq.)

This Soldier trains Afghan Army units, and one of the units he worked with suffered dramatic losses from a suicide bomber. This man not only shared a close proximity to the attack, but had passed by the scene shortly before the bomber struck.

He reports feelings and impressions that are quite common to Soldiers who have endured such combat experiences, or had close connection to those who have been injured or killed. In an earlier note, he shared some really powerful insights that apply to all of us who serve in harm’s way. These ring true, and are shared by those who serve in Iraq as well:
Everybody dies the same here. Infantry, Airborne, Special Forces, truck drivers, cooks. It doesn't matter what's on your uniform or what specialized training you've been through.

Training helps but only goes so far. Marksmanship is the most important piece here and how quickly you return fire. Our soldiers are excellent marksman.

You can tell almost instantly if someone is going to die right after being hit.

Everybody feels fear here. It comes and goes in different levels of intensity but is always there.

Out on the FOBs, you sometimes feel completely alone even when other soldiers are right beside you.

Riding in armored up HMMWVs or SUVs does not guarantee you will live during an attack...

You feel guilty when you survive something that others don't. It bothers you day and night. It never goes away.

When flying over enemy territory you feel intense heat inside your body.

Children here are completely blind to the dangers all around them. They play as though nothing will ever happen to them.

No day is ever the same here. You always see something you've never seen before. Sometimes wish you'd never seen it.

The desert wind does sometimes have a sweet smell to it. The desert is pitch black at night when there is no moon.

Politics don't matter, all that matters is coming home alive and in one piece.

Death is just around the corner for all of us, live life everyday like it's your last. People are the most important things in this life, take care of those you love.

God bless these men who go out everyday knowing they may not come back again, but go anyway.
We have a few Soldiers in our unit who do real combat patrols in towns and villages, who have been party of attacks, seen death and destruction, and known what it was like to come close to harm oneself. They have come through okay, but those of us who haven’t had to suffer through these experiences directly can only sympathize with our friends, pray for them, and be there to encourage them when they see too much or start getting rattled.

Others in the unit adjacent to us are responsible for FOB Security and other force protection missions on the FOB, and off. They are from Texas, and many had family directly in the path of Katrina or Rita, and many lost homes or had families disrupted or uprooted during the recent hurricanes, flooding, and other crises. I know they could relate to this Soldier in Afghanistan, and his impressions above.

It is a testament to human will and endurance, and reflective of the strong courage, and Faith, that sustains many of these Soldiers. I will forever be in awe of their strength, and bravery, and ability to just keep on keeping on.

Links: Dawn Patrol at Mudville Gazette



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