Building Bak one shura at a time

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Navy Lt. Mark Fetterman, Khowst Provincial Reconstruction Team engineer from Plymouth, Mass., stands on a hilly outcropping in Bak district during a foot (click for more)

ANA enforces weapon registration law

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers from 1st Coy, 3rd Kandak play with village children during a patrol through Sar Mast Kheyl, Zormat District Jan. 16. (click for more)

Afghan forces, ISAF help improve security in Bak

KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – An MRAP remains idle as construction efforts surround Combat Outpost Bak and the nearby district center. ISAF, ANP and ANA members work together daily (click for more)

Task Force Leader Soldiers patrol Zambar

KHOWST PROVINCE – U.S. Army Spc. Kyle Oszczakiewicz, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Trenton, N.J., scans for insurgents as 2nd Plt. receives (click for more)

US, Polish forces build relationships in Ghazni

GHAZNI PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Polish Battle Group A and Texas Army National Guard Ghazni ADT-IV conduct a village assessment of Pir Shabaz, a small village near Ghazni City, (click for more)

New recruits join Afghan army

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army Operations Sgt. Maj. Akhtar Muhammad takes questions from new recruits during Basic Warrior Training at Forward Operating Base Thunder Jan. 22. (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls find IED

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Spc. Michael Scarsbrook, an infantryman with Task Force Ironman, from Iowa Falls, Iowa, looks down on a spot in Tupac Jan. 21, (click for more)

ANSF, TF Thunder aim to increase GIRoA influence in Pul-e Alam

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Spc. Tyrik L. Holmes, assigned to 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, Task Force Thunder, (click for more)

Sayed Karam market walk, step in right direction

PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class David Davis, from Moore, Okla., the platoon sergeant of the 2-45th ADT’s security force, leads the rear security element (click for more)

Iowa Soldiers discuss ‘average’ days in Afghanistan

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Pfc. Corey Vanotegham, an infantry radio telephone operator from Victor, Iowa, with TF Ironman, smiles as he stands beside a Holstein cow (click for more)

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan -- Working at a major military airfield in Afghanistan, I used to hate announcements for ramp closures. A ramp closure announcement is a notice that a portion or all of the access points to an airfield will be closed. They delay aircraft from take off and landing.
If personnel are leaving or arriving at our base, we could not drive our all-terrain vehicles to pick them up or drop them off at the terminals. I even thought the ramp freezes were the Air Force’s way to get at us because it seemed at times we were flying more aircraft than they were.
That all changed one morning when I went by our hangar to see if our aircraft departed before a scheduled ramp closure, and I came upon a ceremony for three fallen Soldiers.
Everything was conducted with military precision. Soldiers were paying their respects to the passing caskets. It was a rare silence in a normally very noisy place. The solemnity of the occasion kept me riveted where I stood. It felt as if everything surrounding the ceremony took on the solemnity of the moment, even the towering mountains stood at attention.
Into the belly of a big aircraft they went, one by one, with the flag of the country they loved enough to give their lives for neatly draped over each casket. If what was before me didn’t change how I felt about the ramp closures, what happened next definitely did.
As the ceremony ended, many Soldiers from the unit and others who worked with these heroes walked toward the aircraft. A few of us were left behind.
I slowly worked my way to our hangar and as I approached, I saw a Soldier sitting where our mechanics normally work. Coming closer I realized I didn’t recognize this Soldier.
Why would he be in our area? Our mechanics weren’t there. I thought I should check this guy out.
I approached him and said, “Hi.” He was looking down, and I thought he didn’t hear me, so I spoke louder.
“Hey, how are you?” I asked.
That was when he looked up and softly said, “I’ve been better, but what can you do.”
I noticed he was crying. I put together the rest of the story without any more words.

I will never know exactly what a Soldier feels when a buddy dies, but I came closer to understanding it right then and there. I couldn’t say a word, and my vision started to get blurry as I gave this young man the space he needed to be with his thoughts.
Our modest hangar became a chapel.
If that Soldier reads this note, I want him to know that because of him, my appreciation of the brotherhood units in combat form grew immensely. Every commander must be proud to have such Soldiers in their units.

Although it is my wish that we have no more fallen Soldier ceremonies, if there are any, for the time I have left on this deployment, I will appreciate the reasons for ramp closures. I want to do my part to honor these Soldiers the way they deserve.

Note: Juan Perez is a U.S. Army civilian working as as Task Force ODIN-A (Observe, Detect, Identify, Neutralize – Afghanistan) Buckeye Site lead and Army Geospatial Center Afghanistan Representative, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Falcon.

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 February 2011 22:54


Related Links

Bagram Airfield

The Flood





Fallen Heroes

Language Selection

Press Releases

Bastogne Soldiers help link locals, government


KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan –Afghanistan National Security Forces and U.S. Army soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, alongside other members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, began a series of joint operations in the Ghazibad District of the Kunar Province Feb. 16.

Drug lab discovered in Nangarhar, material destroyed

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Soldiers assigned to Troop C, 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, attached to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, conducted a search with Afghan National Security Forces in Loya Torma Village in Sherzad District Feb. 5.

ANSF, TF Bastogne begin operations in Shawan Ghar Valley

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces partnered with the Soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, Task Force Bastogne, 101st Airborne Division, to begin operations in the Shawan Ghar Valley of the Lal Por District Feb. 3.


Weapons cache found, destroyed in Laghman

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A weapons cache consisting of more than 100 anti-personnel mines was found by coalition forces on patrol near the village of Jugi, Mehtar Lam District, Laghman Province Jan. 27. An explosive ordnance disposal team was deployed to the scene and destroyed the cache in place.

The security and safety of Afghan civilians is an important part of every coalition operation. All weapons caches found during these operations are destroyed to ensure they do not harm civilians or military personnel.

“Mines are indiscriminate killers. They don’t distinguish between Soldiers or civilians, between men, women or children. We must all work together to eliminate the threat posed by these deadly weapons,” said U.S. Army Col. Ben Corell, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Red Bulls.

If you see any suspicious activity or know of a weapons cache in your area, please report it. Call the Operations Coordination Center Provincial Tip Line at 079-662-0193 or at 079-397-0975.