September 2, 2007
Hello All. It is me, Captain Jason Carter, once again from exotic Afghanistan bringing you some of the latest from over here.
Well, we started out like normal on our mission but normal is not always normal over here. We stopped to have chi with the ANP in a little village called Ahman Kheil and we were on our way 20 minutes later. Along the way, since I was the lead vehicle, I see choppers flying around. Nothing big, since the engineers are building a FOB and there is an LZ (Landing Zone) at their compound. I radio to higher to let him know we have aircraft in the area. As we get closer, I notice an Apache gunship too. This is not normal but when aircraft travel, they travel in at least 2 ships. As we get even closer, I notice that they are MEDEVAC choppers! This means bad news. When we get to a bridge where we always stop, the road is blocked off by Humvees. I radio to higher and he comes up closer to my vehicle. I dismount and talk to the blocking vehicle and he tells me that ALL traffic, to include US vehicles, is stopped. A suicide bomber blew him up (note: There were US casualties but out of respect for them and their families, I will not say how many/whom/ what unit, etc.) Just think if we did not stop…
When we are able to move out, there is a smell in the air. I will not get graphic but it was not a pleasant smell. I will never forget what I saw. We go to the ABP station in Chawney and then we go to the hospital because wounded people are there. An old man was hit in the leg and was OK. Two brothers, ages 10 and 11 are not so lucky. They have very serious wounds and our medic says they need to be evac’d ASAP. We call in the MEDEVAC or Dust-off choppers in again to evac the brothers. They both have shrapnel in their chests and backs and require surgery. When the Dust-off choppers come in, they are evac’d to Khowst or Kabul for surgery. US soldiers are not the only casualties from IED’s and suicide bombers. The tension now is so thick you can cut it with a knife. The decision is made to stay the night there and we erect a triple strand concertina wire perimeter around the perimeter of the ABP station.
We stay the night there and then meet with the village elders the next day. To say that we are all pissed off is a mild understatement. The ANP was supposed to be guarding the engineers while they build the bridge but were not in the area when the explosion happened. A lot more is said but the gist of the meeting was a very pissed off meeting. We leave that afternoon for Spena Shigha. Nothing happens that night so it is a relative calm now. We have other places to visit in the morning.
Ok, so it was a quiet night and then we head out to another OP that we need to visit. Without getting all complicated and all but there are reports of a VBIED (Vehicle Bourne Improvised Explosive Device a.k.a. car bomb) in the area. When we are traveling, most vehicles will pull over way in advance but every now and then, you have a vehicle that will speed up and pull over at the last minute. Well, as we are traveling along, a red car swerves in our direction every time we try to avoid him. He is speeding up close to us and after refusing to stop several times all of a sudden, I hear 2 gunshots. I am like WTF was that?!? My gunner fired 2 warning shots at the car for him to stop. He stopped! My gunner acted correctly in firing warning shots at the car because it would not stop.
Ok, after our time at the various OP’s, we have to go to another FOB to pick up a soldier that is on our team. He has been at a different FOB for a few weeks and he is going to be on our team. Just to let everyone know, the last time we were in that area, we got shot at so we are on extra guard. Ok, so we pick him up and Charlie Mike (Continue Mission). We are rolling along happily when the rear vehicle says that his breaks and power steering have gone out. This is the brand new Humvee that we get and this is the 3rd time in a month that this has gone out on it. No problem so we continue mission. We continue towards home when we notice the jingle trucks in front of us are pointing at the front of my vehicle. I hop out and notice our front right tire is going flat. Yes, this is another tire. The 4th one that I have had to change in the 3 months I have been here. It takes us 30 minutes to take the old tire off and put the new one on. We have the right tools now so it is easier. A few moments later, the middle vehicle radios that he is running hot. No problem here either. He gets even hotter (over 250 degrees) and now he is blowing steam from the engine. This is not good. We stop and wait and notice that his radiator is leaking fluid. A few minutes later we CM. A little bit later down the road, his flywheel pulley flies off and lands in the road. This is the pulley that turns the fan to cool the engine and other vital functions. He tells us that his temp is still normal. As soon as he cuts off, his temp spikes and he is blowing antifreeze all over the place. He immediately shuts the engine off and now, we get to tow him the rest of the way home. Ok, for those keeping score, we have 3 vehicles and 2 are broken. (We find out today that the transmission is shot too so it is deadlined but gets fixed today).
During this trip home, since we are towing another vehicle, we can’t steer too well and some of the roads involve going thorough riverbeds and creek beds my driver starts to take a wrong turn. So I get out and see if my driver can make it or not. He can’t. As I am telling him to back up, this car comes flying towards us like a bat out of Hell and I order him to stop repeatedly and he still comes towards us so I unholster my 9mm pistol and aim it at the car. He stops immediately. Finally. It may seem harsh but my priority is to protect my men, the convoy and myself. We found out early that the Soviets would use the pistol to shoot people randomly. When we need our space and people tend to ignore us, we use the pistol to get them to move. When I am in town buying supplies, I leave my M-4 in the Humvee with my driver and gunner and carry my 9mm only.
We radio ahead and let them know that we are coming in with 2 broken vehicles and 12 tired, tense and hungry men. Nope, no females on this trip. And ask them to hold plates for us and we should be there around 1900. This time, they do. They hold 15 plates for our interpreters and us. WOOHOO!!!! This is such a morale booster. The last time we asked them to hold plates for us; they did not and threw all the food away before we got there. We were pissed then but not now. We all relax and enjoy our food after we say a little prayer for our fallen buddies. God Rest Your Souls. (A side note. All the fallen US service members can be found at www.militarycity.com/valor).
We enjoy the rest of the night off and we take care of personal hygiene and I wash my clothes that I have had on for a week. I stay up until 2 that night answering e-mails and making some phone calls to let everyone know I was OK.
Saturday means we have the day off to do personal things and work on admin issues and supply issues. Saturday night also means one thing. Texas Hold ‘Em! This is something that the MWR (Morale Welfare & Recreation) sponsors for us. It costs no money so we all have a good time and relax. I usually do not do too well but tonight I finish 2nd. This is the best I have ever done. I am happy.
Today, Sunday, is spent working on more paperwork that has to be turned in tomorrow in Kabul. Yep, my labor day is spent working.
That is about all from here so I guess I will close this e-mail now. I have a few other things to do before chow tonight. Have a safe Labor Day weekend!!!
Talk to you soon!!!
-Major Jason Carter
Jason lives in Hazel Green, AL with his wife, Linda. He has served for 19 years and had a total of 41 months active duty deployed after 9/11/01. He is a senior buyer in the electronic manufacturing industry and serves his country proudly in the Alabama National Guard. In his spare time he likes to metal detect, not only to stumble upon a few treasures, but to learn about the history of a place as well. “My greatest hope is that we all remember the sacrifices soldiers make to each other and their country.”