LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Capt. Jason Merchant, the company commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman from Dysart, Iowa, hands out cards Dec. (click for more)
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Lauren Hyman of Texarkana, Texas, armored vehicle driver for the 64th Military Police Company based at Combat Oupost Fortress, says hello to an (click for more)
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Taylor Gingrich, an infantry officer from Cedar Falls, Iowa, with Task Force Ironman, draws a smile from an Afghan boy as Gingrich (click for more)
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Brian Stowe, a human resources specialist from Elkmont, Ala., with Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, sings a ballad he wrote and (click for more)
PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Servicemembers defend the wall after an improvised explosive device detonates on Forward Operating Base Lightning Dec. 5. (click for more)
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan and French military chiefs conduct a briefing before deployment during a security operation. Afghan National Security Forces and French Task Force Richelieu conducted Operation Montevideo (click for more)
PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Phil Compton, Doty, Wash., Panjshir PRT engineer, and PRT local Afghan engineer Abid Wardak check the structural integrity of the retaining (click for more)
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An Afghan family looks at their new family member after she was delivered by the Polish Army medical team at Forward Operating Base Warrior Jan. 3. (click for more)
KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion 187th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, maneuver through Sabari District during patrols to disrupt insurgent activity in the (click for more)
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Shawn Fouste, Decatur, Ill., noncommissioned officer in charge of the Freedom Restoration Center with the 455th Expeditionary Wing, Task Force Med, plays with (click for more)
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Pfc. Mario Charles prepared for deployment just like any other Soldier in D Company, Task Force Phoenix, Task Force Falcon; however, his story is a difficult one that many Soldiers face before deployment.
This is Charles’ first deployment with his first unit. He is excited about the deployment as he prepares himself for this year-long adventure.
“I am ready for it and excited to do something new,” said Charles, a native of San Angelo, Texas, “It is crazy, though, because I have heard a lot about Afghanistan. I don’t know what to believe. I have heard it is good, and I have heard it is bad; but whatever the case, I am ready for it and all the challenges that are coming my way.”
So, he put on his mental rucksack and headed for the mountains of Afghanistan. Charles left behind his wife, Noemi, whom he married June 18 of this year. In addition, he and his wife are expecting their first child. His first baby will be born while he is deployed.
Noemi, also a native of San Angelo, Texas, is excited to be pregnant and in high spirits even though her husband is deployed during her pregnancy.
“I feel happy,” said Noemi. “It is by far the most wonderful gift. It’s a great joy. I’m excited to find out the baby’s sex. I wish I already knew. I feel like a part of me left, but I know he will be back.”
No doubt leaving behind a wife is hard - especially one who is pregnant. Charles admitted he is sad and believes everyone should be able to see their first baby born. He may be sad about the possibility of not being around for his first child’s birth, but he asked for leave around the baby’s due date with the hope he will get lucky.
“When I found out I was having a baby, my eyes got watery,” said Mario. "I always wanted a baby. After my sister gave birth to her son, Zachary Charles, I knew then I wanted to have one. I would wake up in the early morning to feed him and put him back to sleep every night. I was going to school and working full time, so I know the hardship you go through for a newborn. In the end, though, it pays off – I hope.”
His upbeat humor keeps him grounded and helps raise morale of the Soldiers in his section. A fact few people outside of his section know is that he enjoys writing poetry and songs on his downtime. This is where his story becomes unique to other Soldiers. Mario decided to begin writing a song for his first born a couple months ago. It is still in the process, but he hopes to complete it before the baby is born.
He is such an eager father-to-be that he finds light in having to leave his new family for deployment.
“I am excited to know that one day, later in life, I can tell my kids and their kids that I [deployed to Afghanistan].”
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|Afghan forces, TF Bastogne continue operations in Sherzad District|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, Task Force Bastogne, continued operations in the Sherzad District Jan. 8 clearing the village of Toto of insurgent fighters to reinforce a foundation of security in the area.
|TF Iron eliminates insurgent IED team|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Soldiers form Task Force Iron Rakkasan and members of the Afghan Uniformed police, using the Precision Threat Detection System blimp at Forward Operating Base Andar, identified a group of insurgents with weapons and explosives Jan. 3.
|TF Iron Rakkasan uses PTDS to prevent highway robbery|
GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Recently, Soldiers from Task Force Iron Rakkasan watched a member of the Afghan Uniformed Police conduct an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. Using the camera system on the Persistent Threat Detection System, Soldiers observed a man standing in the road collecting money from vehicles. The practice is common by insurgents who fund their attacks by taking money from locals.
|Joint operation helps clear Sherzad of insurgent activity|
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and Soldiers from Task Force Bastogne began operations in the Sherzad District Dec. 23.