Never Forget Friday.
"If I call you BROTHER, it’s because you’ve earned my RESPECT."Join OEW’s team in raising awareness of the enduring nature of wounded veterans. For more information on how you can help, go to www.enduringwarrior.org High-res

Never Forget Friday.

"If I call you BROTHER, it’s because you’ve earned my RESPECT."

Join OEW’s team in raising awareness of the enduring nature of wounded veterans. 
For more information on how you can help, go to www.enduringwarrior.org

overhawk:

Leave no man be behind

Neither in the heaviest of firefights Nor the wasteland of their own mind, Fighting demons that lurk in dark corners And follow, relentless. 
Biting at heels and unguarded flanks, fraying the edges of sanity to ribbons With needle sharp teeth And vicious whispers. 
A feast for doubt and despair That weakens even the strongest.For one cannot stand vigilant forever When war is left behind But the battlefield remains In the heart and mind, Forever indelible. 
-R

overhawk:

Leave no man be behind

Neither in the heaviest of firefights 
Nor the wasteland of their own mind, 
Fighting demons that lurk in dark corners 
And follow, relentless. 

Biting at heels and unguarded flanks, 
fraying the edges of sanity to ribbons 
With needle sharp teeth 
And vicious whispers. 

A feast for doubt and despair 
That weakens even the strongest.
For one cannot stand vigilant forever 
When war is left behind 
But the battlefield remains 
In the heart and mind, 
Forever indelible. 

-R

(via itsramez)

When men say they miss combat, it’s not that they actually miss getting shot at – you’d have to be deranged – it’s that they miss being in a world where everything is important and nothing is taken for granted. They miss being in a world where human relations are entirely governed by whether you can trust the other person with your life… .

-Sebastian Junger, “War” (via trainandgain)

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers…

Afghan and American soldiers rally to give blood for ANSF officer.

(Photos by Sergeant First Class Michael Carden, 29 JUL 2013. Article by Specialist Tyffani Chaney, 24 AUG 2013.)

KANDAHAR – Lt. Col. Sher Mohammad, 3rd Special Operations Kandak commander, rushed to rally his men for a very important task. One of his best and brightest soldiers was critically wounded and in dire need of help.

Earlier that July morning, in southern Afghanistan, Capt. Najibullah performed his mission as a team leader in the Afghan National Army Special Forces as he always did. But things took a drastic turn, setting into motion a remarkable chain of events that truly proves the bond among brothers in arms. 

While leading his men on a clearing operation to disrupt insurgent activity in Maiwand district’s Koka village, Najibullah shot and wounded an enemy fighter. The insurgent fled. Najibullah followed him unknowingly into an empty home that was rigged with explosives. A bomb exploded and instantly severed both of Najibullah’s legs. That’s when the phenomenal story of brotherhood beyond borders began to unfold. 

“We got the call that one of the ANASF soldiers from Maiwand was getting medically evacuated [to a hospital on Camp Hero], so immediately we went down to the kandak and tried to meet up as soon as possible with them to see what was going on,” said a U.S. Special Forces team sergeant. “We saw them, and they said [Najibullah] needed quite a bit of blood. They said he needed B negative, and I know that’s pretty rare. I have B negative, so I just jumped in there.”

Meanwhile at Camp Hero, the 3rd SOK command sergeant major coordinated a blood drive at the base. The Afghan National Army Commandos were more than willing to donate blood for their comrade. 

“Lieutenant Colonel Sher Mohammad rushed down there before anyone else,” said the American team sergeant. “Whatever he could give he gave. He got as many of his guys as he could down there and helped orchestrate the whole blood drive. He’s definitely all about his guys – his special forces guys and Commandos.”

Mohammad and his men described their actions not as heroic, but as simply helping their fellow soldier and brother.

“As a battalion commander and his direct supervisor in the chain, it was my sole duty to do whatever it took to save my soldier’s life,” said Mohammad, who also has the rare blood type. “Therefore, I performed my duty to save my soldier’s life and boosted the rest of my soldiers’ confidence by volunteering to be the first person to donate blood for Captain Najibullah.”

Medics from the 3rd SOK tested the Commandos’ blood and assisted with the blood draw at Kandahar Regional Medical Hospital located on Camp Hero. 

“I volunteered because he’s one of our soldiers, and he’s our brother,” said an Afghan Commando. “It’s like helping one another as a family member. I did it because I wanted to save one of our brothers and comrades’ lives. This is our sole duty [and] that’s what we are here for — to help one another.”

The Commando didn’t know Najibullah personally, but he still considered him family. The American soldier who donated shared similar sentiments toward the man he affectionately called “Naji.” 

“These guys are pretty good friends of ours — they’d do anything for us,” said the American team sergeant. “It didn’t matter to me that Naji was an Afghan at all. These are the same guys we go out with, [and] it’s usually just me and one other [American] guy and them.”

The American Special Forces sergeant and his teammates visited Naji at the hospital everyday to check on him and push to get him transported to Kabul to perform the next necessary surgery. 

“I sometimes like these guys better than the Americans I work with,” the American team sergeant said, with a bit of levity in his voice. “They are awesome. These guys don’t get paid much at all, and they do this all year round. I consider him to be one of our own, a brother, and part of my family — the same as us.”

The sergeant explained how Naji was talking with the U.S. Special Forces team and with his family a few nights after the incident. 

“He’s doing a lot better; he’s kind of in and out and he’s still in shock,” said the U.S. Special Forces sergeant. “We’re gonna bring him dinner tonight. If we can get him out of here he’ll make it –it’s looking pretty good right now. We’re trying to get him out tomorrow.” 

Despite continued medical treatment and the support of his brothers in arms, Najibullah passed away several days later. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country, succumbing to his wounds in Kabul on the morning of Aug. 6. He is survived by his wife and seven children.

Najibullah’s fellow soldiers described him as dedicated, professional, a motivated loyal supporter of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and a protector of the people. He dedicated himself to improving the lives of Afghans in Kandahar and fighting the Taliban, specifically in Maiwand, an area plagued by insurgents and improvised explosive devices that have killed or maimed countless Afghan civilians and soldiers. 

“Captain Najibullah was one of my fine soldiers who [died] in carrying out a mission that was given to him by my order,” said Mohammad. “He was one of my greatest subordinates and a brave son of this country.”

Five soldiers — four Afghans and one American — donated blood for Naji, but not because they had to. They explained they belonged to something bigger than themselves, something beyond cultural and national boundaries. They gave part of themselves without hesitation to save their brother.

“It’s a sad story, but as soldiers, we have made the commitment to sacrifice ourselves to protect our countrymen,” said 3rd SOK Chief of Culture and Religion Maj. Abdul Bari Auda. “We are sons of this country and we are willing to sacrifice and help however we can to save our people’s lives.”

SOLDIER STORIES: You Don’t Have To Be Blood To Be Family.

operationzeus:

When asked why they might go back into the military most veterans of a combat arms unit will say the same thing: camaraderie.  During this series we have, and will, talk a lot about loss.  This segment however, will focus on something gained.  The family that is forged in the military is not something that can be easily explained by words or shown through films, to those who have never experienced it.  Throughout history many people have tried to put to words the bonds that are formed when the experiences of war are shared, by brothers in arms.  To understand the family you have to go back to the beginning, to the very first day, that moment when you get off the bus.  

 

image2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment before deploying to Sadr City, Iraq
Camp Buehring, Kuwait
©Andrew W. Nunn

It all starts as indoctrination, a way of teaching young soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that in order to survive the daily rigors of combat, you must rely on each other completely.  They strip you of everything you own and place you in an unfamiliar environment with chaos, both organized and disorganized, exploding all around you and everything has to be done as a team.  The first thing you do is look to your left and your right for the s When asked why they might go back into the military most veterans of a combat arms unit will say the same thing: camaraderie.  During this series we have, and will, talk a lot about loss.  This segment however, will focus on something gained.  The family that is forged in the military is not something that can be easily explained by words or shown through films, to those who have never experienced it.  Throughout history many people have tried to put to words the bonds that are formed when the experiences of war are shared, by brothers in arms.  To understand the family you have to go back to the beginning, to the very first day, that moment when you get off the bus.    

 

While the chaos and hardship of basic training can often lead to some lasting friendships, it takes the adversity of a deployment to build a brotherhood and form a family.  You don’t just live with these guys, as in roommates, you live off these guys through everything the military, and life, has to throw at you.  During a deployment everything comes with added weight especially personal issues, and these guys are the ones who help take that load off your back.  Like a normal family, you eat, sleep and live together; however, not like a normal family, you share in some of the worst possible conditions and situations known to man. War is hell: to what degree of hell all depends on where you happen to end up.  These conditions are what strengthen the brotherhood to an unbreakable chain that lasts a lifetime.  When you bring a group of veterans together, they often talk about situations and try to have a pissing contest over who had worst conditions or a longer deployment.  When you bring a group of brothers together they talk about their brothers, and their actions in those situations. 

 

image2nd Platoon, A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment after 13 months in Sadr City, Iraq
FOB Falcon, Iraq
©Andrew W. Nunn

 

When I said that this segment wasn’t about loss, I wasn’t being entirely truthful.  Eventually everyone must go home, back to the place where they will return to civilian life.  There is no easy way to put this; it just sucks.  The experiences that brought you together will never be forgotten and you never forget the guys you spent all the time with.  And that in itself is a loss that carries its own weight and one that I see veterans struggle with often.  How do you go from being around your brothers 24/7 to possibly never seeing them again, overnight?   Satisfaction of knowing that you’re not alone.  You look to complete strangers for the most basic of human needs when you need it most, and this plays the biggest part on learning not just the military way of doing things but how to rely on one another.    

imageVeterans of A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment
Gathered for the funeral of Scott Zaur in Naperville, Illinois.
©Andrew W. Nunn

Words: Nathan D. Moldenhauer
Images: Andrew W. Nunn

“Whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart, give him his money to speed his departure, since we wish not to die in this man’s company.
“Whoever lives past today and comes home safely will rouse himself every year on this day and show his neighbor his scars, and tell him stories of their great feats in battle. These stories he will teach his son and from this day until the end of the world we shall be remembered.
“We few…we happy few…we band of brothers.
“For whoever has shed his blood with me shall be my brother.”
-William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV Scene III. High-res

“Whoever does not have the stomach for this fight, let him depart, give him his money to speed his departure, since we wish not to die in this man’s company.

“Whoever lives past today and comes home safely will rouse himself every year on this day and show his neighbor his scars, and tell him stories of their great feats in battle. These stories he will teach his son and from this day until the end of the world we shall be remembered.

“We few…we happy few…we band of brothers.

“For whoever has shed his blood with me shall be my brother.”

-William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV Scene III.

(via theonus)

If one person fails, everyone fails.
U.S. Army soldiers assigned to Chaos Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, cross a river while on an Afghan-led foot patrol near Combat Outpost Baraki-Barak in Logar province, Afghanistan. U.S. forces are working closely with Afghan National Army as they provide stability to the people of Logar province.
(Photo by Spc. Alexandra Campo, 13 MAY 2013.) High-res

If one person fails, everyone fails.

U.S. Army soldiers assigned to Chaos Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, cross a river while on an Afghan-led foot patrol near Combat Outpost Baraki-Barak in Logar province, Afghanistan. U.S. forces are working closely with Afghan National Army as they provide stability to the people of Logar province.

(Photo by Spc. Alexandra Campo, 13 MAY 2013.)

SOLDIER STORIES: My life’s a tragedy.

biggreenweener:

I’m not writing this to win sympathy, likes, or reblogs. And I appreciate whatever words of support and condolence you’ve sent my way. But I’ve come to accept that my life’s pretty much one disaster after another.

It’s bad enough to be away from the same family that threw me out when I told them I was gay. Then I got word that my mother had a stroke and was in intensive care when I was half the world away. Then even before I made the decision to come home and risk facing my father’s wrath I got a phone call that my mom just passed away.

I didn’t really want to go home. I didn’t want to see my dad again and hear his bullshit and get hit by him like I’m trash. 

So I asked for and got my emergency leave. I came back stateside a day after they buried my mom the day after Mother’s Day. I really felt like a worthless son. I loved my mom. She was the only person who came around and accepted me, much as she was bound to follow my dad no matter where he stood. 

I never stayed home. I checked in at a motel the whole time I was home. And I wasn’t home long; I stayed in Florida only for 3 days. I had 2-week’s worth of leave, so I spent the rest of it roaming around. Trying to figure out what’s happening with my life and where I’m heading to. 

I felt so lost. I’ve never longed for my mom’s words as much as when she was finally gone. I guess it’s true that you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone. 

So here I am, heading back to Afghanistan. Losing more than when I was at war, and feeling that with my mom gone I’ve got nothing left to lose.

My life’s a tragedy. I feel like an orphan now.

[You make your own family; you can, and you have even if you don’t see it. There are bonds thicker than blood—love and brotherhood most prominently. You have both. -R]

SOLDIER STORIES: Black Heart Love.

The region around Kandahar city in Afghanistan is the Taliban’s birthplace and breeding ground. That makes it a key location in the U.S. military’s security efforts. But “securing” a region in which you can hardly distinguish friend from foe is far easier said than done. NPR staff photographer David Gilkey just returned from the region, where he spent time with the 101st Airborne Division. Their mission is two-fold: chase out the Taliban and win the trust of locals — if they can.