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Basenshukai
03-15-2006, 04:50
As I write this a Muslim cleric, somewhere in the distance, is chanting verses from his mosque through a loudspeaker. The melodic sounds are only broken by the breeze whistling past the door to my small room; the door slams shut and then opens again. The chanting continues.

Almost one month to this day, I was having breakfast with several team mates in a quaint dinning area adjacent to a makeshift kitchen. We were in an A-Camp in one of the most dangerous places in Afghanistan. Our A-Camp was isolated by both terrain and relentless enemy presence just outside of our main walls. We reminisced about previous deployments in places much more pleasant. We joked at the expense of one another. I felt, as I have always felt in the presence of men such as these; I felt a sense of family and belonging. We were all tied by our near-tribal traditions and experiences. We were tied, ultimately by our triumph through the gauntlet of “Selection” and the “Q-Course” and, inevitably, we were tied by our shared risk; by the ever-present chance of death. Not one of us was deterred by what could happen. We were Army Special Forces and closing with and destroying the enemy was our calling.

After breakfast, we began to load our vehicles for the mission. The mission commander was a close friend and colleague whose team had been recently “re-constructed” after a tremendous – and coincidental – personnel turn-over at every level. There were a few “old hands”, all of whom I knew particularly well. As second-in-command in the company, I had the privileged latitude to visit the teams when I could. My old team – which I had commanded for two years – was based at a location south of us and my replacement was an excellent officer and leader; they were in terrific hands. My time spent in the same company brought a sense of familiarity between myself and the rest of the men in the unit. I was a known quantity to them and part of the family. As a result, I was accepted and invited into this team’s tight circle. What better accolade can anyone bestow on a fellow Special Forces soldier? I do not know of any.

We loaded our vehicles and checked all our communications. I took my position as the rear gunner on the command vehicle. We drove out to the nearby range and test fired all weapons systems. Once the team sergeant was satisfied with our pre-combat checks, he gave the “go” signal to the team leader and our combat reconnaissance patrol snaked out of the firebase. Our posture was aggressive and lethal. In Special Forces, our vehicles are fighting platforms and not just transportation.

After an hour of tactical movement, we halted by a village. The air seemed thick with tension. The village, at about 200 meters to our left flank, seemed deserted; something was not right. Our weapons covered all 360 degrees around us looking for movement. The patrol inched forward and stopped again. The senior NCO in the first vehicle sensed something was awry and said so on the radio. He wanted more time to feel out the situation. All was quiet. His vehicle moved forward again and I heard the explosion. I turned around as the heat wave hit the back of my exposed neck. We lost four brothers in less than one second. And then, the fighting began. We got engaged from our front and our left flank. Our .50 caliber machine guns and 40mm grenade launchers began to eliminate targets. Silhouettes filled our rifle scopes again and again. The team leader called for air support. Another team, about one kilometer south of us heard our call and, as true brothers, began to make their way to us. Special Forces men move to the sounds of guns. About 800 meters from us, they were ambushed by a force now estimated to have been about ten times their size. The roar of their firefight could be heard from our location. Air support came on station in the form of four pairs of aircraft. The air warriors stacked themselves above us and ordnance began to rain on command. We began to collect the bodies of our fallen and prepared to move the moment we culminated our fight to support the now-embattled second team. The second team gained fire superiority and overwhelmed the enemy with a barrage of direct fire, indirect fire and pure aggressiveness. They made their way to us instead. Finally, after we pacified the area and ensured we eliminated all threats, did we convoy to bring our fallen brothers back home.

As the team is a family, I felt that it was best that I escort the remains of our brothers to our main base. In this way, the team could stay together and mourn together. The team sergeant and team leader gave me their consent to do so. I brought our brothers down to our main base via helicopter and was present at every moment as they were prepared for their final trip back home. The team was also flown down a day later and we all said goodbye to flag draped coffins as they were loaded onto enormous ramp of a C-17. We cried together.

Just two weeks ago, I received the remains of another fallen warrior. I was not with him at the time but was in place to receive him at our main base. He was in my own detachment and he was a friend. There are personnel here whose sole and difficult job is to receive the remains of our fallen and process them prior to their final flight home. They have to remove any equipment from the remains and ensure nothing dangerous is present, such as live ordnance that they might have been carrying. These soldiers do this job with the utmost respect and professionalism. I insisted to be the one to remove his gear as he was being prepared for his final trip home; he was one of mine. I removed his body armor and held his hand and said goodbye.

The cleric has stopped chanting. The breeze still whistles past my doorway. The mission continues.

“De Oppresso Liber”

Warrior-Mentor
03-15-2006, 07:50
Thanks for sharing that.
JM

The Reaper
03-15-2006, 08:01
J:

Thanks, very nice tribute.

I have said farewell like that a few times myself, it is never easy.

They will be waiting for us on the other side. In the meanwhile, keep your head in the game and get some.

Take care, be safe hermano.

TR

Chris
03-15-2006, 08:46
Thanks for you service BAS. That is very sad, something I'm sure all your brothers can relate to, unfortunately. It really makes me appreciate what liberty I have when I read stories like this. They serve as an example of those who make a tangible difference in the world. They need to be passed on so the efforts and sacrifices by great men are not forgotten or lost in the annals of history. Someone needs to promote you so you can write that book.

RIP

jbour13
03-15-2006, 09:04
All I can really say is....Thanks Sir. Well written, you're an example to others of what a real soldier should be. Hard and calculated when the situation dictates, kind and caring when you send off a fallen comrade to his final resting place.

Keep your head up, you did good!! I'll buy the drink of choice in May when I'm down.

CoLawman
03-15-2006, 09:26
Truly a moving account. An excellent eulogy and tribute for those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Thank you!

Bill Harsey
03-15-2006, 10:15
Thankyou.

booker
03-15-2006, 11:11
Inspirational, sir, and sobering.

Thank you.

dennisw
03-15-2006, 11:54
Thank you for the post. May God be with the families of the those fallen soldiers and with their comrads who continue the fight.

CPTAUSRET
03-15-2006, 15:18
Thanks for that sincere tribute to your to your fallen comrades. It was moving, and obviously heartfelt.

God Bless you all!

Terry

Daver
03-15-2006, 15:52
Thank You for sharing that with us. It must have been difficult but we all understand and share in the honor you shared with those men. Their sacrifice is not forgotten and this Great Nation is better because of them.

Martin
03-15-2006, 15:54
It takes strong feelings to write that powerful words.

Thank you for what you've done.

Martin

gtcrispy
03-15-2006, 19:02
Thank You.

I'm going to share this with my language class. I believe a friend of ours through most of the Q-course is there with you guys right now. He said he got hit the leg a few weeks ago. It sounds like is alright. My prayers are with your team and everyone else there who is getting the job done.

RIP to those who have passed on.

Kevin

aricbcool
03-15-2006, 19:06
Thanks for posting this. It's a very moving tribute.

Respectfully,
Aric

Gypsy
03-15-2006, 20:13
With eyes misted with tears, a lump in my throat and an ache in my heart I thank you for sharing this moving tribute and your thoughts. May your Brothers Rest in Peace; my prayers are with you, their families and friends and all of the other Team Members...

lrd
03-15-2006, 20:22
Thank you, Basenshukai. God Bless you all.

Ammodawg
03-16-2006, 07:46
Thank you for that Basenshukai, I got chills when I read it. Keep your head high, you make us all very proud. We will all be together in the end. :(

MtnGoat
03-17-2006, 12:25
Looking to see if what I heard here on Bragg is true on Kevin and the Hokey ICE?? PM me please.

Basenshukai
03-26-2006, 14:39
Thank you all for your heartfelt responses. We are still in the fight and have recently lost yet another one of our brothers. We go forward knowing that we have the support of fellow QPs and others behind us. Besides our losses, our Allied SOF brothers have also lost two members in about this same time period. Thanks again.

J.

MtnGoat
03-26-2006, 18:15
JP

Thank You for sharing your story with us. Through you, their sacrifice(s) are not forgotten. Thank you.

“De Oppresso Liber”

NSDQ
08-30-2006, 21:50
Thanks for sharing yours & their stories.

NSDQ