COP Shangri-La, Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan:
On the 28th of July, Apache Troop conducted an air assault into a very risky objective. This was the first mission of that kind for us. Our traditional role is in the mechanized community, which means helicopter insertion is rarely on the menu. Early in the operation, one of my soldiers, Adam Hamilton, was killed and another severely wounded. This was hard blow to my platoon. What I spoke about in an earlier post about resolve still holds true. My men in stalwart fashion defended against four Taliban attacks and repelled them each time. Despite such a great loss, they did not come apart at the seams while we fought. They held their ground emotionally and literally and completed the mission with no further casualties. In the face of tough loss, they knew how important it was to continue to watch each other’s backs.
Adam Hamilton was a great man, and brave. The attitude that Ham brought to the fight will be irreplaceable. He was constantly joking and could turn a bad situation funny with his wit and sarcasm. Ham was also the kind of guy you want next to you in a firefight. On more than one occasion, I found myself next to him with bullets flying all around, stuck in the space between. Unflappable, he engaged the enemy with steady fire from his rifle and his grenade launcher. His actions kept the enemy’s head down, and allowed our forces to seek positions to fight from and deliver back unto the enemy what they tried to deliver unto us. I will very much miss his rifle watching my back.
Ham was a man of compassion and brotherhood too. I remember on one instance he, LT Flores, and myself were playing catch. I haven’t thrown a baseball in years, and while Flores and Ham were ripping zingers at each other, he threw to me like we were at a barbeque. There was more concern about us hanging out and relaxing than there was on one-upping. Among his section and the platoon he was a good friend to all, and would hold people accountable for their responsibilities. Never in a manner that would offend, but with enough wit and bite to his words that could make you think. I will very much miss this.
The platoon fights for the platoon at every level. Yes, we execute our orders from higher. Sure, that is our oath, but when it comes down to it every move we make, every mission we plan, every trigger squeezed, every enemy felled, is to ensure that our brothers see the next sunrise.
The critical and most revered line of West Point’s Alma Mater is “May it be said, ‘well done!’, be thou at peace.” It refers to the graduates who have fallen, and indicates the appreciation of sacrifice. When sung, it crescendos at ‘well done’, and is followed softly with ‘be thou at peace.’ I do not just apply this only to graduates of the Academy. It is a fitting thanks I feel, and have said it over the memorial services for both SGT Aguilar and SPC Hamilton. For all the hard work of both of Apache Troop’s fallen, for their constant vigilance, and mostly for keeping their brothers alive, may it be said, “well done” Adam and Amaru, be thou at peace.
My class from the Academy has suffered as well. John Runkle, a companymate of mine was killed a few weeks ago, only to be followed by another who was severely injured. In February, we lost Daren Hidalgo. I am sure every class goes through this period where most of us are out on the line, and are thus exposed more to harm. It is very unpleasant to have these people hurt with whom I spent four years living and learning with. I can remember these people vibrantly, and hope that I can be as good an officer for my men as they were for theirs.
Someone mentioned to me a few days ago about being seasoned veterans. The first thing that popped into my head was a large crock pot full of my platoon being topped with clove and other spices. It is certainly warm enough here to feel like a crock pot, and baby wipes can only keep you from being ripe for so long.
A bonus for everybody this update. I have crafted a video on this here Macbook, it is posted below.
There are big things coming up for the troop. Might cause a delay in the next update. Dry those eyes though, the next time we talk the USA will have brought the facebook and interwebs and all its glory into the heart of the Taliban which will piss them off more. And we all know, there is only one thing better than a pissed off Taliban…..
Staying nine and a half hours ahead, HE heavy, and until next time faithful readers,
1LT Wm Treadway