letter & article from afghanistan
The below is an email posted on a fishing forum, the email writer is from a friend of mine and my brother who is currently serving in Afghanistan with the USMC.
On Sun, May 6, 2012 at 2:42 PM, Gabriel Sganga wrote:
> I had planned to write weekly emails which I expected would consist of
> a narrative of the monotony of life aboard Camp Leatherneck, the
> largest forward logistics staging base in Afghanistan. I had planned
> to write about the wonderful relationship I have begun building with
> our partnered forces, the Company 300B of the Jordanian Army and the
> countless old friends I have run into since arriving. Relaying
> mundane details about the quality of the food, the billeting, the
> incredible amount of care packages personnel here receive that keep
> office shelves stocked with Girl Scout cookies, protein powder, candy
> and other consumables. Instead, I've spent the past week reflecting
> on my first contact with the enemy. I am fine but I lost a Marine
> that day and my team sustained 3 wounded. None of them were guys I
> had trained with, and were sourced from another unit, but it hurts
> Within a week or so of my arrival, I was given a mission to provide
> security for a joint US military/civilian civil affairs & governance
> team in a province with no US presence. It was not an assignment I
> was expecting, but the unit we are replacing had been doing it for the
> past 5 months and had briefed it as a pretty laid-back mission to a
> relatively restive area. We were vehicle-mounted in unarmored trucks
> and I was in the 1st vehicle about 30 meters ahead when our 2nd
> vehicle was struck by a suicide bomber, followed by a small arms fire
> ambush when we moved into the kill zone to extract and treat our
> wounded. It's hard to describe how alive/enraged/terrified and
> focused I felt. I didn't think, I just reacted. I was scared
> ****less but my feet kept moving. In my mind the actual combat was a
> living, breathing entity that descended on an otherwise busy, peaceful
> street bringing noise, fire, metal, confusion, debris and acrid smoke.
> I was facing to the rear when the bomb went off and saw the entire
> event unfold. Seconds later I was radioing in the attack and
> requesting medevac helos while running towards the downed vehicle and
> personnel. I can not describe in words how surreal it all seemed
> until I had to wrap my fallen brother in his poncho liner. That's
> when it became tangible for me. Even though I had been running and
> gunning and ordering Marines around a fire-swept street, the reality
> didn't hit me until I laid his arms across his chest an hour later.
> I didn't really sleep very much for the first couple of days, but
> things have gotten better since then. It's been frustrating because I
> haven't been able to think about anything else, but am still slammed
> with responsibilities for my primary billet as my Battery's Executive
> Officer. Turning over millions of dollars worth of sensitive gear,
> weapons, vehicles and the like was almost impossible to focus on, but
> I had to. I had a pretty legit concussion from the blast and have sat
> down and tried to write this email half a dozen times over the past
> week with a lot of difficulty. The headaches are finally gone and my
> cognitive function is back but my experience pales in comparison to my
> Marines who despite being wounded, stayed in the fight, returning
> enemy fire and allowing us to treat the most serious wounded and fight
> our way out of the city to an LZ where we were extracted by Ospreys.
> The 19 and 20 year old kids who bear the lionshare of the fighting
> also carry the weight of their experiences with them. They didn't
> skip a beat, just dusted themselves off and said a quiet prayer
> together in an emotional huddle afterwards.
> Adding to the surreality of this high tech, digitally-connected war is
> one of the passengers in the vehicle I was riding in. A reporter from
> a major national newspaper was there with his camera and was by my
> side for the entire battle, taking pictures of the whole thing. At
> one point, while I was dragging one of the wounded out of the street,
> we were fired upon and as I glanced over to my right, there he was,
> snapping pictures of us. I yelled at him to drop his camera and help
> me move this very large Marine to cover. Luckily for us, he complied
> and we all made it out safely. He is writing a story on this and you
> all should be able to read it and get a few more details that I am not
> able to discuss due to operational security. When we finally returned
> to base that night, I was able to pick up the phone and call Audrey to
> tell her I was safely back and that I had been in a fight and was ok
> and to call my mother and let her know, because I didn't want anyone
> finding out about it via a newspaper story.
> I attended my fallen Marine's memorial service yesterday, and he will
> be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetary on Tuesday afternoon.
> I know this is a lot to digest and I understand if you wish to be left
> off future emails. Talking about it and writing about it out have
> helped me process everything and keep moving forward with the mission.
> I have attached two pictures of me from before this happened. I know
> that I am a better Marine for having survived my baptism by fire, but
> I just wish the valuable lessons on tactics and fragility of life
> hadn't come at such a high price.
> Semper Fidelis,
> 1stLt. Gabriel M. Sganga, USMC
This is the link regarding the Wall Street Journal posted.