The events of the past 72 hours, specifically the past 24, have left me in a state of shock and disbelief. I cannot help but reminisce about our time spent in Afghanistan and the contributions we made, regardless of the storylines of failure being portrayed by the media now. To begin, I am not a hero, nor do I want those reading this to believe portraying heroic actions or feats about oneself is what this post is about. This is simply the story of one man, along with his brothers, who successfully completed the mission for which they were assigned while deployed to Afghanistan. Combat Veterans View of Abandoning Afghanistan
The Price Our Soldiers Paid in Afghanistan Is Now All For Not
2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Squadron of the 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was much like every other platoon who found themselves deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We were a hodgepodge of degenerate assholes who were equally as likely to steal your woman on a Saturday night in Clarksville as we were to execute the skill set the Army had trained us to perform. Our leadership was comprised of war-hardened NCOs from their time spent fighting previous deployments in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. We had men from every background and ethnicity one can find in our great country. It is often one of the many unspoken truths about the military; we are a true representation of what America is comprised of, a brotherhood that does not delineate between race, gender, or religious beliefs. I remember vividly us all hearing about the heroics displayed during the Battle of Kamdesh, which has since been portrayed on the big screen and in-text regarding the defense of COP Keating. A mere 7 months later, in the spring of 2010, we would find ourselves in the same area as those heroic men, on a remote hilltop in Northeastern Afghanistan named after one of the many men who laid down their lives for their brothers on October 3, 2009, SPC Stephan L. Mace, a fellow Virginia boy to boot.
OP Mace was templated to be a battle, as the northeastern most position manned by American personnel along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, we were trained and ready to take on whatever the Taliban had in store for us. Our mission was simple, secure the northern sector of our area of operations for the Squadron and Brigade to ensure the Taliban did not have a safe haven nor a passage to the heart of our AO. Regardless of the reasoning, whether it be our proactiveness on OP Mace or the void left by the closing of COP Keating, the Taliban found an alternate route into our AO. Our brothers in Archangel and Blackhorse Troops did not disappoint and took the fight to the Taliban, ensuring the freedoms felt by those in the northern Kunar Province continued and that we as Americans continued to kill our enemies and secure our freedom.
As we left Afghanistan in the spring of 2011, we all had changed. While our Squadron lost one hero that deployment, PFC Zachary S. Salmon (January 12, 2011), many of us left a fraction of ourselves in Afghanistan through the loss of flesh, blood, sweat, or tears. Our Brigade lost 30 heroes that deployment, men and women who sacrificed their lives for not only the person to their left and right but for the freedom of the Afghan people.
Anger and Disbelief as Experts Talk About “Our Failures in Afghanistan”
Today, as I listen to the media and “experts” talk about the failures of the American War in Afghanistan, I cannot help but feel anger towards those words and the sentiment that American lives were lost for nothing over the past 20 years. If you have been there, you know the struggle the Afghan people were facing and what we were attempting to resolve during our time spent there. We did exactly what our mission was at the lowest level. With that being said, we were failed by four administrations and countless senior military officials who never defined what “winning” or “success” in Afghanistan was. We were expected to spearhead a strategy of nation-building and policing within an organization designed for “winning” our nation’s wars. As I see comparisons to the Vietnam War displayed on television screens across America, I personally cannot let that notion go unchallenged. As Operation Enduring Freedom veterans, WE cannot let the narrative that our war was for nothing go unchallenged. To do so would be unjust to our brothers and sisters in arms who heroically sacrificed their lives for our own. To our Gold Star families, your loved ones did not sacrifice themselves for anything as the media may portray. They died supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States, and their brothers and sisters in arms.
All We Can Do Is Share Stories and Remember Our Fallen Brothers
It is our time to share our stories and the stories of those who sacrificed themselves for the War on Terror in Afghanistan. We cannot let the unfortunate ending of our war be dictated by politicians and media pundits across the globe. We cannot let the names of our brothers go unhonored for the sake of placing blame on political parties or administrations.
Combat Veterans View of Abandoning Afghanistan
Tonight, (We) I remember:
SFC Jared C. Monti (June 21, 2006) Nuristan Province, Afghanistan (3BCT, 10th MTN DIV)
PFC Thomas R. Wilson (August 27, 2007) Paktika Province, Afghanistan (173rd Airborne BCT)
SPC Brian “Bucky” M. Anderson (June 12, 2010) Kunduz Province, Afghanistan (1BCT, 10th MTN DIV)
PFC Zachary S. Salmon (January 12, 2011) Kunar Province, Afghanistan (1BCT, 101st ABN DIV)
Unknown Author from 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Squadron of the 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)