We take off and are able to sleep, however uncomfortably, for the next hour or so. Those asleep are awoken to the jumpmaster’s commands. We received a ten minute warning and move to our feet, 100 pounds of equipment and ruck sack weighing us down and grinding on our shoulders. The doors open up and the cabin is filled with freezing wind and a loud roar. It all happens so quickly. Your heart races with excitement, no matter how many times you have done this before.
Like many Soldiers and service members, I went to college after high school and failed miserably. I went because it was expected of me and I didn’t know what else I should be doing with my life. I didn’t know anything except for that I wanted to have a good time. Fast forward three years to 2006 and you would find me, a college dropout with no plan, sitting in the recruiter’s office. I had finally had enough.
Our mission was simple: take back land in the valley, establish strongholds, and flush the enemy out. Coming back to the valley meant bringing humanitarian assistance for the local populace and put bad guys in body bags. Simple enough. Holy shit, I’m back! Talk about déjà vu. Our MP squad were the first Americans in the valley since the last units retracted earlier that year. As we approached the entrance of the valley, we were to meet with local Afghan police at a checkpoint in order to proceed forward. When we arrived at the checkpoint, smoke had engulfed the building and we found some the police officers beheaded, with their heads on sticks. God this smell is ripe. The interpreter said there was a message on the wall from the Taliban. “What does the message say?” I asked the interpreter. “Keep coming,” he replied. These assholes are taunting us. Telling us to come deeper into the valley. Wait, this was planned. They have to know we are coming, right? So, how many of them are waiting for us? Wake up!
It all started during deployment to Iraq in 2008. I was sitting in my Stryker and pulling security with our truck’s .50 caliber machine gun when I became very dizzy and disoriented. While the feeling was hard to describe, I had never felt that way before in my life - that was sure. I couldn’t focus, and it seemed difficult to breathe. It only lasted maybe half an hour, and I soon forgot all about the incident. Fast forward to the fall of 2009 and I was being transported to the hospital on Fort Wainwright by an ambulance after a night of heavy drinking.