Thursday, 4 September 2008

I Belong on the Front Line!

I found this article interesting.

Even Prince Harry says he belongs on the front line of the war on terror. Here's someone with the best of everything at home, and everything in the world to live for, but he still expresses a desire to go back to Afghanistan and live in an austere, demanding environment doing a tough and dangerous job.

I had another conversation with a Army Reserve Soldier friend of mine who served with me in Afghanistan. We had not seen each other in a few months and early in the conversation he said, "I really miss Afghanistan". And like a lot of us he's looking for an opportunity to go back again.

While I was in Afghanistan the hardest thing I personally did was prepare fallen heroes for the jouney home. I did the same for many Afghan National Army Soldiers and Afghan civilians, but the toughest by far was sending a fallen US Army Soldier home.

I recently received a forwarded email on this very topic and I've cut and pasted it below.
It's tough to read, but I think it's important for the families of deployed Soldiers, Sailers, Airmen and Marines to know what happens when a servicemember falls in combat. I'll let the email below speak for itself.

Phillips, Out.

Date: 10:21 AM 7/20/2008Subject: An observation after a sad day in Afghanistan

I hope this e-mail finds each or you and your families well.

Here in southern Afghanistan it has been a sober day. We had a really bad fire fight. At this point I am not allowed to say much but our team had 18 guys vs 175-200 bad guys. They scored once; we scored many, many more. Yeah for the good guys.

Unfortunately, we held the first of several hero ceremonies, which occurs every time they move a body from one location to another. At each ceremony, every available service member will stand at attention and line the road, starting at our small morgue and eventually ending with his final flight home.

I am not sure folks back home know what happens at a small Forward Operations Base when a US kid dies in battle.

I am sure no one back home knows that this kid's commander, who is in charge of 7000 men, helped wash the blood from this kid's face and prepare him for the trip home. I bet they don't know that his buddies, all rough and tough and not a sissy among them, stand like brothers, hold hands, cry and exchange hugs. I bet they don't know that 250 people lined the walkway from our morgue to the ambulance just to salute this hero. I bet they don't know that one of my patients, who was also injured in this attack, demanded to be pushed outside in a wheel chair so he could say good bye to his brother. I bet they don't know that the command staff, all senior officers, marched behind the ambulance with tears streaming down their faces and carefully loaded his body onto the plane. I bet they don't know that people line the runway, stand at attention and salute the plane until it is out of sight. I bet they don't know that the FOB Commander orders each of the injured (who is able) to call home, so that their parents and wives, know they are OK, in an effort to ease the shock to the families when the guys in full dress uniforms show up at the family's home. I bet they don't know that tonight, these young men, far from home, will morn like a family and will then pick up their weapon, wipe the tears from their eyes and head right back to the fight.

My observation: This young man has two families. The one here is already in mourning and the one back home will soon be awaken by this sad news. There are some very good men here, who care deeply for those they command and whom love each other as brothers.

Take care and let's try to live a life worthy of his sacrifice.