News At Eleven

August 2009     USA

I no longer look forward to situation reports that occasionally come in from my co-workers in Kabul.   Last week the capital took nine rockets.  This week a truck bomb blew out every window at the guest house that hosted the Halloween party.   In the two months I have been out, five of my friends and work associates have been killed.  Christian Major “died in his sleep” last month and the other four guys  struck a roadside bomb yesterday. I only have one of those names, not sure yet if I knew the other three.  But they are a small security contracting company, and we grilled out and drank beer at their compound every Thursday night, so chances are good that I knew them.  Last week one of their convoys got hit hard, racking up 39 wounded and 11 killed, all Afghans.  I sure hope yesterday’s hit did not include my boy Mick, the Aussie special forces guy from the burned-girl transport job described here back in May.

Facts are hard to chase down, even when there on the ground.  There is not much local media, and the US news hardly even mentions contractor deaths anymore.  Local communications are spotty at best.  How does a former Navy SEAL “die in his sleep?”   As for the other four, they were from the company we contracted with as tactical medics for road convoys.   I would like to learn the names of the other dead and wounded.    They were probably on a standard high-risk night mission, no different than the one also described here in May.  As mentioned before, I volunteered to not work that contract.  Those who know me well, know that I weighed that option for awhile before stepping aside. I will always have some second thoughts over not going out there and personally working out some issues with the savages.  But a large proportion of them step into the fray intending to die, so it would not actually have cost them anything. It might have cost me a bit more, so no regrets.

As for the two names I have, both were big, smart, rough men, educated hard-working overachievers.  They knew the risks and  were there for their own reasons.  They would have contributed a lot more to this world and the security of the Afghan people, but maybe you can only roll the dice a certain number of times before it is time to pay up.

Late last night I was having a good time at a rocking birthday party at a friend’s house.  Then I got the word about the four KIA via email on my phone.  It was like the needle scratched right off the record, but of course it did not– everything flowed on around me.  What to do? Go home and stare at the ceiling?  Start talking about it to friends I just saw again after a year away?  Or turn off the phone, find a bottle of Jameson’s and take up smoking?  I chose door number three.  I have been out for awhile now, but sometimes I feel like I am still there.

Much of the spike in violence was widely predicted as the August 20th election approaches, and that is why I timed my exit as I did.  The work these guys accomplished there maybe made a difference in the war  (Christian “adopted” four Afghan kids and sponsored their schooling out of his own pocket,) but their deaths will not bring any progress.  Kind of a waste, and not worth it to me personally.

Go ahead and starve or rape your wife  – it is legal now in Islamistan.  Our man President Karzai signed that law this week, in an effort to win votes.  I think some US undergrads, educators and even policy makers really do believe that all cultures are equal and respectable.  Take your heads out of the books and go travel a bit, discover broken ideologies, and consider the cost to all of us.

Wake up and smell the barbarians:

Great tribute to Christian here, though maybe interesting only if you knew him.

Another writeup about Christian, from my man Tim in Jalalabad, AFG.  He writes the best-informed blog in the country:


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3 Responses to “News At Eleven”

  1. ddotcom12 Says:

    so sorry chris. i know you’re taking this hard…what a horrible thing to have to experience. all my love. d

  2. Julie Says:

    So sorry to hear of this news. Love, support and prayers to the families of the fallen, to you and all those who continue to go beyond the ordinary to step up and make this world a better place.

  3. David M Says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 08/18/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

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