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World October 4, 2007
 
Afghan Warfare Just Got Real
Our man in Afghanistan loses two friends By Joe Sailor Browse author
 
 

There was an anecdote about these three girls that made its way into the eXile book. Ames didn't want to take them to his apartment because it was a shit hole. I guess since there were three of them, he wanted to impress them. Anyway, he phoned a friend who had secured one of those beautiful expat packages that investment firms were just tossing out in the 90s; the ones that came with proper flats with running water and were newly furnished and all that. This one in particular even came equipped with its very own Jacuzzi. The friend, whose name escapes me, was taken with the idea. Why wouldn't he be? Ames had done all the legwork. His friend just happened to be the guy with the nice place.

I was recently thinking of this because, during the taxi ride to his friend's chateau, two of the girls began singing a song about Russian soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan under the occupation of the coalition is a very low impact confrontation area compared to the Soviet days. But last week, I heard a story about a pair of 82nd Airborne soldiers who were in an UAH (Up Armored Humvee) when it was struck with an RPG in such a way that it flipped the vehicle onto its side, with the gunner's hatch pressed up against a ledge. The doors weigh about 300 pounds. (That's about 130 Kilos to you Eurotrash readers.) The two soldiers burned alive in the UAH. There wasn't even a subsequent attack with small arms fire. Just the one perfectly targeted, brilliantly executed Rocket Propelled Grenade that killed those two men who were, I'd willing to bet, both younger than 25.

This happened last year though, I think around June. That was the one going around to scare everybody who was new in country into "Maintaining Situational Awareness At All Times," and whatever the fuck else those clowns who never leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base) tell us to justify their worthless existences.

I sat out here for seven months before I saw my first "trauma patient." He was a man well over 300 pounds, and definitely not within Army weight standards, that's for sure. His truck had rolled over an IED less than two kilometers from our FOB. He was KIA. The guys on site stuffed what was left of him into an EOD (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) truck, which basically looks like a fire engine. The less severe injured personnel were treated and flown out before we even went into the truck. When I swung the doors open I had to look hard and concentrate before I could even make out what I was looking at. The left leg was missing, and there was a large fleshy area surrounded by torn clothing that turned out to be an ass-crack. It was hard to tell at first because he had been ripped right open, and the remaining skin had absolutely no tension. It was my job to get him from the truck to the litter, and then to a body bag and eventually onto Medevac.

I did my best not to look, and grabbed something that was clearly a mixture of cloth, fragmented bone and decaying flesh. Ultimately it took six of us to get him out and make sure all of his remains made it on the litter. When you touch someone's arm and feel that his radial bone has been fractured in hundreds of places, but that it is still "attached" to his body by a flap of skin, it is instinctual to tuck that arm away with the rest of the meat. All this takes place within an emotional void. The real gravity impacts later and in varying degrees depending on proximity to the actual incident, and closeness to the departed.

I didn't know this man who died here in Afghanistan. A week later three Afghan Security Forces soldiers were killed by a similar IED. Ours being the closest FOB to the actual explosion made us the go to guys as far as medavac went. It was the same as before though, except instead of one KIA there were three. It's different when their uniforms don't say United States above the left breast pocket. The three whose wounds were not fatal were treated with the same sense of urgency and diligence as though they had been Americans, but the remorse for the departed was just about non-existent. I felt nothing for those Afghans that died, except for relief that it was one of them and not another American.


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