Alive Day #1, Eight years later

I have written about this “Alive Day” several times over the years not this blog. This is a significant day to me and to my buddy Scooter. Scooter and I are bonded by this day and he never forgets me, nor do I him on this day. Today was very special as this morning he emailed me his Sworn Statement from that day. I must say it was pretty cool reading it again as it took me right back to that day. Not that I forgot it, but his sworn statement filled in small details that I had forgotten or didn’t even realize.

So in recognition of this anniversary, eight years later I am providing a copy of this sworn statement from my “Partner in Crime”, Scooter. I have modified the names to protect identities of all those mentioned in this statement, to include trimming mine down to just “1SG S.” for ease of reading.

8 September 2006
On or about 8 September 2006, while assigned as the Field Artillery Advisor in 4-2-203 Corps (ANA), MAJ B. (TC), CPT L. (passenger), 1SG S. (driver), and myself (M240B gunner) were returning from Operation PIR KOWTI in vic Orgun-E, Paktika Province, Afghanistan in a convoy of approximately 16 U.S. and ANA vehicles.

Our vehicle was in the middle of the convoy.  After approximately an hour into the drive, in the rocky hills, we were going around a curve.  1SG S. accelerated around the curve as a TTP for deterring IEDs.  Once we cleared the curve, there was a very loud explosion about 15-20 meters behind our truck that sent smoke, dust, and shrapnel beyond our truck.  I immediately ducked into the gunner’s hatch upon hearing the sound and 1SG S. was yelling to see if I was alright.

I was not injured and told him I was OK.  I stood up again and looked back, only to see the continuation of the smoke and dust cloud.  There was a sound of automatic gun fire and we thought there might be an ambush, so I went “red” on the M204B and was scanning, looking for the trigger man.  After driving for another 50-75 meters and not seeing the vehicle behind us, 1SG S. turned the vehicle around.  We drove back to the IED site and stopped short by approximately 25 meters.  There was still a slight dust in the air and I saw a body in the road and a destroyed ANA Ford Ranger (LTV) on the side of the road, on the other side of a large rock.

The LTV was upside down, pointing the opposite direction, and the vehicle itself was twisted.  The occupants were the ANA Bde CSM, the Operations SGM, and two others.  The convoy behind us had stopped and (according to a radio transmission) saw the trigger man, attempted to engage with their M2, and had several US Soldiers and ANA Soldiers attempting to chase down the man.  The man had escaped to an awaiting truck on another “road” and departed at a high rate of speed north.  Meanwhile, 1SG S. got out of the vehicle to assess the situation and determined that there were additional personnel trapped in the vehicle.

I continued to man the M240B for security and the lead US element had arrived at our location with COL A., MAJ M., CSM S., and the ANA Brigade Commander.  MAJ M. and COL A. immediately started to perform Combat Lifesaving skills on the victims.  1SG S. was trying to gain radio contact was having trouble due to the ECM and our location in the rolling hills.  1SG S. managed to gain contact with an MBITR radio with a portable satellite antenna to send a SPOT report to our headquarters in Sharana (ETT) and to the Catamount (10MNT) headquarters in Orgun-E.  After MAJ B. and COL A. identified seriousness of the casualties, 1SG S. sent a 9-Line MEDAVAC request.  CPT L. was asked by 1SG S. to assist the ANA to provide 360 security.

While 1SG S. was getting ready for the MEDAVAC, I monitored the radios and provided some clarification on the request.  COL A. and MAJ M. continued providing medical attention with the ANA medics on the casualties, while MAJ B. and 1SG S. were preparing for the MEDAVAC and attempting to gain control of the overall situation.  Within 20 minutes, a Blackhawk MEDAVAC arrived with an Apache escort.  I contacted the MEDAVAC and confirmed the smoke color of the HLZ.  I also contacted the Apache to describe the getaway vehicle of the trigger man. After the casualties were evacuated (with two Blackhawks), it was determined that there might be a secondary device located in the road and EOD from FOB Sharana was contacted.  The ETTs and ANA started to clean up the papers blown by the helicopter and taking pictures of the scene.  After some time, the EOD arrived, they conducted their own assessment of the area and they placed multiple charges in the road to detonate any secondary devices.  After determining the area was clear, a refuse truck evacuated the destroyed LTV.  Once the vehicle was removed and the area was policed, the convoy continued with the mission to return to Sharana.

It was later determined, by the ECM contractor that the trigger man was attempting to make contact with our U.S. vehicle; however, our ECM delayed the explosion and detonated on the LTV (with the Bde CSM) that was tailgating our truck right outside of our “bubble”.

 

This used to be a 4-door Ford Ranger pickup with 4 occupants. Amazingly two survived with major injuries

This used to be a 4-door Ford Ranger pickup with 4 occupants. Amazingly two survived with major injuries

 

Isn’t it funny?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Isn’t it funny that if some questionable organization nobody ever heard about makes a video about a warlord in Africa nobody had ever heard about goes viral and then our country all of sudden deploys Special Forces soldiers there to help hunt for him?

Isn’t it funny that when our Secretary of State goes to one of what was our strongest allies to forge a cease-fire he fails miserably?

Isn’t it funny when a liberal Prime Minister from our strongest ally in the world shows more backbone towards a common enemy (then our President) and doesn’t care about mincing words to be P.C.?

Isn’t it funny that our Administration can send three representatives to the funeral of some normal american young man who happened to be killed by a police officer defending himself after committing a crime but not send any to a Two-star General murdered in combat?

Isn’t it funny that we just throw out words when our citizens and innocent journalists are be-headed on video instead of bullets and bombs? Where are the SF teams to hunt these guys down? Where are the strong (and tangible) words from our President?

 

No, NO, none of that is funny and all of that is very, VERY serious.

Thanks a lot 51% of America for putting impudence, not once, but twice into the leadership of this country. Hope you are proud of yourselves.

What do you think?

Good Intentions

newlogo2.jpg

That is all they have been, good intentions to get back here and write but boy it has been a busy summer and it has flown by. I can’t believe it is September already as the days fly by. I have just been swamped with multiple jobs, family, and many other happenings. There has been a ton of stuff happening that I have either started writing about or want to write about so I am going to try and at least start getting some short pieces out more often and bigger posts when I can.

Here they come…

A true criminal act

Ok accidents happen, I get that. An unmarked border in the middle of the desert could be hard to identify and a person or helicopter could accidentally cross it.

KVOA-TV reports that Mexican authorities were conducting a drug interdiction operation when the incident happened early Thursday morning on the Tohono O’odham Indian Nation. The Mexican chopper fired at the agents and then flew back into Mexico.

So how about we all agree and understand that and give us our damned US Citizen and Marine back who accidentally crossed over your border with his legal weapons. He did not shoot at your cops or try to harm any Mexican citizen.

Mexico then contacted U.S. authorities and apologized for the incident.

You fired on and tried to kill two of our federal agents, which I think warrants more than a friggen “I’m sorry”. How about you give us our Marine back with that apology, along with all his possessions, and a deep heartfelt apology from the President of Mexico. Otherwise if our administration had a pair, **they might seed the border with Stinger and other Anti-aircraft weapon platforms to shoot down the next “accident” that crosses over the border.

**Oh how I wish President Reagan was still alive and in office because I know that is exactly what he would have done. In the meantime, can our inept and impudent congress stand up as a whole body and DEMAND the President do something about this?

Read more at http://lasvegas.cbslocal.com/2014/06/27/report-mexican-military-chopper-crosses-into-us-shoots-at-border-agents/

A new film with a personal connection

newlogo2.jpg

Well I recently stumbled across this trailer for the documentary coming out this summer called The Kill Team. I am curious as to how this documentary will play out to see if there is an agenda in it, or if it is truly just presenting facts.

I have talked about the connection with this film and the incident several times on this blog. One of the main individuals involved in this incident and who was found guilty and sentenced to 24 years in prison was Jeremy Morlock. I knew Jeremy when he was a little boy, long before he joined the Army. I knew his parents very well as I had served with his father for several years. Jeremy has many brothers and sisters and I knew the whole family. I was very proud of him when he joined the Army and had talked to him several times online about his late Father and how much he looked like him and my memories of his Dad.

It broke my heart when all of this happened and Jeremy took these actions that took innocent lives. It broke my heart because I knew him as a innocent little boy and I know it broke his mom’s heart to see the world look at her son as such an inhumane animal capable of doing such things. Even though I look at what he did with disgust, in a weird way only possibly understood by those that have served in combat, I can sort of … Continue reading

Guest Blogger, Susan K.- The real reason to hate Michael Vick

Corporal Garrett S. Jones displays one of the seven prosthetic legs he now wears after being injured in 2007 by an insurgent’s bomb during his unit’s deployment to Iraq.  Six of his legs are used for walking, and one is for snowboarding. (Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ray Lewis)

After having spent nine years taking care of our war wounded service members, with all its heartbreaks and tragedies, the one thing I value most is opportunities to see how well my former patients have done. For me, to watch these men and women recover, get married, have children, play hockey, basketball, compete in the Para Olympics, graduate from college, is my assurance the care I gave them made a difference.

Recently, I was presented with an opportunity to attend a charity softball game in which the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team (http://www.woundedwarrioramputeesoftballteam.org) took on the NFL Players Association Team.   As I scrolled through the team’s roster I realized I had taken care of over half of them. It was great for me to be there and watch the smiles and laughter come from men I had last seen pale, thin, scared and in pain. I cannot tell you how much it means to me to see their recoveries. It makes all the sorrow and the emotional turmoil of caring for wounded warriors worth it. Which made what happened on the softball field that much more a travesty.

I walked around the stadium looking at the outfield and saw the wounded warriors warming up next to the NFL players. As the players were introduced, I found a seat and watched the fist bumps and high fives of team members gearing up to play with a smile on my face. As the announcer came to … Continue reading

UPDATED- Guest Blogger, Scott Kesterson- What Just Happened? Looking at Bergdahl from the lens of political spin

Scott Kesterson back in Afghanistan

[Author’s note: Politics and power are a game of strategy and board position. Master’s of the game maneuver like a military tactician in war, making use of information and events as their weapon of choice. The ambush is a tactic used by the best of the game masters, leveraging surprise, intensity, and timing to overwhelm an adversary and create opportunity. It is an event that forces the unsuspecting to be consumed within the moment as focus shifts to the immediate threat and survival instincts take over to preserve personal and emotional cohesion. The more intense the ambush, the greater the potential to create an effective distraction from the larger strategic objectives. Bergdahl’s release can be viewed in this manner. What follows is a perspective of the Bergdahl release from Taliban control through a lens of information strategies and influence. The views are the authors alone.]

The emotion around the release of Bergdahl from Taliban control has created a maelstrom of public reaction. This is a divisive issue that has pitted a war-tired Americana that is ready to put the past thirteen years to bed against an America looking for purpose and meaning for the personal and financial costs that have been paid post 9-11. As issues go, there are few that can cause such an up-swell of open hostility as those that drive a wedge between traditional values and reformist ideologies. Trying to make sense of the events is almost impossible. The emotions and ideological triggers are so deep with … Continue reading

D-Day, 70 years later

Deployed service members reflect on  D-Day

It is hard to imagine for me that it has been 70 years since D-Day, so I cannot imagine what it is like for the veterans of that day who are still alive to look back as I am sure it feels like yesterday for them. I am glad some of the news media are covering this today and how important it is. Unless the importance of this day are still taught in school and young people really study it, then I am sure the importance is lost on most.

One statistic I heard was that if you took all the combat deaths in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan and combined that number, it would almost equal how many soldiers we lost on the day of the landing.

 

10308384_10202235514995412_1966266707354905184_n

 

So I hope it is crystal clear why this day is so important in our nation’s history and why we should pause to remember. These men and boys willingly walking into the gates of hell knowing that the path to winning the war and righting the wrong by the Nazis was going to be paved with their dead bodies….

 

 

Eisenhower_d-day

Gen Eisenhower talking to the paratroopers who would be jumping from airplanes in behind enemy lines.

…may God bless their souls and I pray they still rest in peace.

 

Who Raven-Wolf isn’t

newlogo2.jpg

I am getting emails from people assuming I am Raven-Wolf. I wish I could take the credit. However, as much as I appreciate the praise, it is misplaced. I have been in Afghanistan a couple of times but I was not even in country when Bergdahl went missing. The story Raven-Wolf expressed is from a contact I have known for years (and vetted by other contacts I have had for just as long).

There are also emails, comments on this blog, and many other blogs and websites assuming or stating that Raven-Wolf is a soldier, was in Bergdahl’s unit (1/501st Airborne Battalion) and other assumptions. All of that is conjecture and unless stated by Raven-Wolf on what his role was in country, then there should not be any guesses and just know he was there as part of the entire ISAF coalition presence in country.

He has taken great person risk to do what needed to be done even when it was against the accepted conventions of the day. I think it is clear to all of my readers that we need more like him.

 

Guest Blogger, Rusty Bradley- Bergdahl has led to Pandora’s Box

I was a tactical operations center chief when Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked off his firebase. The entire room held its breath as we read the message, an American soldier was missing. Phones were abuzz and video conferences under way as preparation for contingency operations to support the search were already underway. There would be no limit in the effort to determine the best way to support the search for the missing American.

It seemed like nearly everything came to an abrupt halt. If he was a lost American soldier, we needed to find him. Almost every available asset was diverted in an effort to find Bergdahl, to include the vast plethora of strategic assets, national ISR (Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance) aircraft, Tier One SOF units and massive operations by the regular Army were shifted from the war fighting effort to assist in the search. We went thru all the available information to see how we could assist in the search. Even though he was missing in the East, we would do what we could from the South to help. It was not twenty four hours later that the circumstances surrounding his disappearance would be reported. It left everyone in the room shaking their head.

Now that he is safe, I am relieved and happy for him and his family. I can’t imagine being held by anyone, much less the Taliban, for five years. The only person I am aware of who can sympathize with this experience is Sen. John McCain. But, amid this short term happiness in securing Bergdahl’s freedom is the long term apprehension as a result. The Obama administration has opened Pandora’s Box by doing what we have sworn never to do, negotiate with terrorists. By making a unilateral decision to negotiate with terrorists, Obama has broken national policy and agreed to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban commanders previously held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

What is the ultimate cost of making this unilateral decision to obtain Bergdahl’s release? It does not matter what side of the isle you fall on politically, this question is being asked amongst the inner circles. This is in no way like the decision to kill Bin Laden. Any grandmother in America would have said “Get him” and know that even if they missed, it could be said that at least he tried. I submit that this decision will have two impacts, one short term and one long term.

The first and short term consequence leaves me shaking my head, yet again. In regard to the release of prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, I have seen the results of these terrorists returning to the battlefield. There is no such thing as rehabilitation. They will return to their acts of terror and inhumanity until they themselves are finally killed. Almost 30 percent of the detainees released from Guantánamo Bay returned to fight, according to research by Thomas Joslin, an analyst for the Foundation for Defense for Democracies. I had to scoff when I read this. I do not have statistics to back up my opinion, only eight deployments to Afghanistan, but I will stand by the statement that I have never known of a detainee who does not return to the battlefield. Terrorists do not decide to go from making bombs to selling cars. It is not an occupational change.

Arizona Sen. John McCain told USA Today Saturday that Guantanamo detainees “are hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans and countless Afghans on their hands”. “I am eager to learn what precise steps are being taken to ensure that these vicious and violent Taliban extremists never return to the fight against the United States and our partners.” McCain said. I can answer this question for you Sen. McCain, nothing…Nothing at all.

There is no doubt that the five detainees that were released from Guantánamo will kill again. We are leaving a fragile Afghan government and military in Afghanistan to continue the fight, but we’ve now given the enemy five of their commanders, who will no doubt reignite the Taliban’s ideology, methodology, and ultimately, motivation. Their release signals that America will submit.

How much more American blood will be shed under attacks led by these terrorists or worse in trying to apprehend or kill these commanders in future combat operations? What will be the cost in future American lives when these terrorists returned to the battlefield and what future forces will face now knowing that America will negotiate with terrorists? Special operations forces continue to operate in Afghanistan and in over one hundred countries and are now a bigger target because terrorists now know the value of one American military hostage.

“While we are mindful of the challenges, it is our hope Sergeant Bergdahl’s recovery could potentially open the door for broader discussions among Afghans about the future of their country by building confidence that it is possible for all sides to find common ground,” Obama said Saturday.

This comment makes one wonder whether he or his administration can actually digest the “challenges” that will arise from this decision. The ramifications of this decision are far reaching. But the long term and greatest danger will be the administration’s willingness to make a deal. It is no longer the perception of negotiation with America, but the actuality.

This is not going to be just about the military. As in Iraq, Terrorist networks will migrate towards capturing easier targets like civilians to accomplish their goals. What happens when terrorist sleeper cell take over a school, movie theater or church in the US? It has happened in Russia already. We are fighting an enemy that has no problem strapping bombs to their chests and detonating them in a market full of women and children. They readily pack cars and trucks full of explosives and convince their young men to drive these bombs into military and civilian targets.

What happens when Americans are captured in order to free terrorists held by our coalition partners? This list of horrific questions gets worse and worse. What will we do now that the president has opened Pandora’s box?

The results of President Barak Hussein Obama’s decision will likely haunt this country and be chiseled into tombstones long after we are gone.

MAJ Rusty Bradley (Ret.) deployed to Afghanistan eight times, most recently in 2012. After 21 years in the U.S. Army, he was medically retired in 2014. Bradley is also the author of the book “Lions of Kandahar.” www.lionsofkandahar.com