I had just come in from twelve days out in the mountains of Afghanistan. The recon patrol I led had been pinned down until we could get some backup artillery or a flyby from the Air Force or Navy. We went out to recon a supposed mountain hideout for the guerrillas in central Afghanistan, northwest of Jabol-os-Saraj, which is north of Kabul. Where we were was to the east of the A76 Highway; at least that is what it says on our maps. Anyway, we had been air dropped into the foothills of the mountains. I don't think anyone knows the names of these damn things. It was near a place called Kuh-e Kokzaro Zaghicha on my map. We were in the fourth day of following a well-worn trail, when we heard trucks heading our way either from the south or the north. We couldn't tell which by the way the echoes bounced around in these mountains. We tried to find some cover and blended into the rocks and scrub, and waited about an hour. We were astonished when we saw trucks laden down with tanks (the T-72 and a couple of T-80s, soviet jeeps (UAZ-469s) and some of their APCs (BTR-3 and BTR 80s) headed south, and not a half hour later when we saw empty trucks headed back north. We couldn't tell whether or not they were the same trucks for sure, but we didn't wait to find out.
Anyway, to make a long story much shorter, we heading back to our rendezvous point for extraction. That is when we found we were sitting on top of a huge guerilla base camp. Were they Taliban or what? We had no idea, but this was a staging point for activity against us in the south. I sat down with the men, discussed strategy, then we spread out as much as we could and still keep within hand signal contact. I then grabbed my radioman and went about two clicks north, back along the line we had come down. I radioed for backup and gave them our position and the position of the staging base. More troops or extraction helos would not be available for at least twenty-four to thirty-six hours. I asked about an airstrike by either the Air Force or Navy. The Army Apaches were all on other assignments and couldn't be cut loose, and the Chinooks won't come near us without cover fire when hostiles are around. Our choices were to wait the time until help arrived, or we could try work our way out of the predicament we were in.
I got back to my troops and we settled in for a long wait. I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Captain Robert Earl King, USAR (That's a reservist to the uneducated.) I was the leader of Recon team Bravo. We are a part of the 980th Engineering Battalion out of Austin, Texas. I am a computer software specialist when at home, working for one of the major software companies in Austin, and I live in Pflugerville, a town just north of Austin. I was raised in western New York and am an avid hiker and outdoorsman.
My squad is made up of MSgt. Tom T. Hall; no relation to the country singer. Tom is my second in command and my best friend, both in the Army and outside as well. Tom also is a computer specialist, but his forte is hardware. Next is SFC Darrel Otis, my radioman and general electronics guru. Next in line is SFC James Tiberius Kirkham, my scout. Jim is a Boy Scout leader, our scrounger, and another avid outdoorsman. Jim can find anything, anywhere and make it work. Next up are Sgts. Harry Conner and Phil Dean. They are our EOD people. If it can go bang, they can either disarm it or make it go bang, depending on my orders. I have two Corporals, Billy Dean Grant and Gary P. Nutt. They, along with SSgt. Patrick Price, USAF, are my riflemen. Pat is my sniper. I had worked with Pat before on my first tour in the sandbox when he was a Senior Airman. That man can knock the dick off a fly at a thousand yards and never even kick dust up. Man, can he shoot. Now don't get me wrong; all my men, as well as I, can shoot damn good, but Pat is in a different class of marksmen than we are. We might just piss the fly off by clipping a wing or take his head off at that distance, but Pat is way better than any of us. That's why he's on our team.
Thirty-six hours later, we noticed a big saddling up of the troops down in the valley. I think they are getting ready to bug out, so Darrel and I go off about two clicks again and I radio in, giving my opinion about the activity down at the base. I got a reply that the Air Force has a couple of F-15E Strike Eagles coming to help us out, but we really need to paint the base with lasers. I told them to give us about ten minutes and we would be painting from all positions.
I got back and let everyone know what needed to be done and we awaited the F-15s. I got a one second squawk on my radio and we painted the base with lasers, then waited for the explosions. It was just getting to dusk in this part of the mountain ridge we were on, and the valley was already dark. Then from out of nowhere an aircraft came in fast and low, and all hell broke loose in the valley. It soon became the valley of death. One of the big bangs was the ammo dump. They had an underground ammo dump, but since they were leaving, the big doors were open and we made sure we painted the inside of those doors. The mountain shook for over five minutes with all the explosions resulting from that hit. I did a double squawk and heard, "Tally Ho, Bravo" which was the all clear signal, for us to move out. We policed our area and started out to our new rendezvous point that had come in after the strike.
We all made it back and had a five day downtime coming before our next mission, or until the brass called on me again. I settled in my bunk after a really nice hot shower and decided to see what mail I had gotten. I could connect to the Wi-Fi from the communications tent two tents over from where our tent was, so I logged on and started sorting through my mail. I tried to call my fiancée, but it went straight to voicemail, so I looked for her schedule e-mail so I could tell when to call her. I noticed a priority e-mail, opened it, and read the following:
I'm sure that this is not what you wanted to hear from me, but I have found someone new. You don't know him as he recently transferred to our office from New York City. I was assigned to take him around and show him the area and the company. We got to talking and I found that we had way more in common than the two of us ever had. He is my age, which as you know, is seven years younger than you. I know what happened with your first wife, and also know that I promised you that I would not hurt you like that. I'm sorry, but I must hurt you again.
It really hasn't been that quick of a romance, since he transferred here in December, just after Thanksgiving when you had left for your tour. It is now August, and we have only known each other for eight months, but I have accepted his marriage proposal. Your mother has the ring that you gave me. I just couldn't wear it after being with Charles for a while.
Anyway, I do have a request of you. I sent you some really good pictures of myself and I would like them back, along with the one that you carried in your wallet. I don't want pictures of me making the rounds of all the guys over there, so please send me my pictures.
I want to thank you for all the great times we had during the two years we were together, but it's time for me to move on.
.... There is more of this story ...