Flashback Upon Waking

This morning I woke up thinking of a long trip I once took in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, from FOB Salerno to a town near the Pakistani border called Khowst. The trip started with a nausea ride aboard a USMC CH-53.

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We took the next leg of the trip by truck.

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Grit crunching between teeth. Dust in the eyes.Image

 

Young soldiers hurling insults in English, Spanish, and Pashtu to stave off fear of the ambush we were warned to expect on the narrow, confined road through the village.

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We all agreed later it was the children playing in the road that saved us the trouble.

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I carried a little digital camera all over that country. One image I don’t need a photo to remember is a particular little kid cringing and frozen in terror as a truckload of foreign troops rolled through his town.

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I wonder where that boy, now a man, is today. Is he crouched behind a mud brick wall, clutching an old hand-me-down Soviet rifle?

Here’s one sight he’ll never see again:

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