Afghan Dispatch #15: In Memoriam (Originally Sent on August 13th, 2012)

Note: This particular dispatch is very important to me.  It tells the story of how I lost three of my friends, days before we were scheduled to return home.  I’ve omitted some details that haven’t been released to the public, and I’ve tried to focus on my own observations and feelings during the event.  I still miss my friends, and I always will.


We tried to tell jokes. We tried to be light-hearted.  It wasn’t
working.  No one was in the mood to hear jokes, and everyone’s heart
was heavy.  As I watched the group of Marines, MY Marines, I could see
the ends of cigarettes flaring up in the darkness like twinkling
stars.  In the back ground, the blades of a CH-53 could be heard
beating air towards the ground.

As the big helicopter landed, I took cover from all the flying debris
behind a rifle case, only raising my eyes up as the pilot slowed the
rotor.  It was time to begin the journey home.  We loaded all of our
gear underneath the still-spinning blades, amid the hot exhaust.  No
one mentioned it, but I know that the four open seats were noticed.
That’s all we can think about.

On August 10th, an Afghan Local Police officer armed with an AK-47,
emerged from a guard tower, moved to our outdoor gym, and opened
fire at close range on the Marines working out there.  

I was just sitting down at a computer to review our flight information
for the trip home.  I heard some loud noises, and it sounded like
someone hammering nearby.  It took a second to realize that at this
time of day, the Afghans wouldn’t be hammering anything.  Right then
a Marine burst in, bleeding, but coherent. At his warning I sprinted
for my gear.

When I got outside I passed another guy who gave me a description of
the shooter.  A pair of Marines and I moved to an adjacent tower to
begin the hunt.  Navy Corpsmen and other Marines sprinted to the gym
to begin emergency care to the victims.

We approached the tower and I yelled in Pastho for the occupants to
come outside. I had my weapon pointed at the door, and another Marine
had my back.  After receiving no response, I had the other Marine
cover the door and I moved to open it.  This tower was empty.  I
looked across the courtyard to the gym and the tower above it. Some
Marines had just descended from that tower with the shooter.

He was young. And smiling. Fucking cocksucker. I wanted to kill him so
bad.  No one would’ve stopped me.  We took him into custody and this
will do more for us than taking our vengeance.  It could save a life
down the road.

After all was said and done, 3 Marines had been killed, and one
wounded.  The wounded one is doing fine. I don’t know what the hell
I’m gonna say to the guys’ families.  I don’t know if I’ll get the
chance to meet them.

It was a long, shitty night.  The homecoming trip that was supposed to
be filled with camaraderie and pride at a job well done has turned
into something else. Not sinister, but somber.  We need to laugh, but
no one wants to.  Fuck this place.

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