This message came from a colleague who has a fellow West Pointer out here in the field, doing what Army guys do "outside the wire" - Inspirational stuff. Working with the ANA (Afghan National Army) to secure the peace.
(See enclosed picture - Their faces have been obscured to ensure OPSEC)
They are taking it directly to the Taliban.
His words -
" Came back in from a mission today and it was pretty warm. Got some chow and went to the Team meeting.....a collage of pix that had been taken on the day I left on leave of the mission they had done that day, I think it was the 21st of April.
There is a hill east of our COP which has been dubbed "POO Hill" (POO being the current military term for "point of origin", essentially where the bad guys are when they are shooting stuff at us). There has been a Taliban white flag on it for a long time, and they shoot their 82mm mortars from there at us. The mission for that day included some of the team guys going up on top of this hill in order to (IOT) man a OP/sniper/mortar position for other op's which were also being conducted.
The four guys who were going up there ( I was going to be the fifth, but was going on leave so did not go) decided to do the American Thing and place Old Glory on top after they had ripped down the Taliban rag. You need to understand that this was no small endeavor; from the gun trucks to the top of the hill was an elevation climb of over 700 ft and a damned tough climb. They each made four trips IOT carry all that was necessary for the mission- which for them included picks, shovels, three 60# bags of cement, mortar ammo, three five gallon Jerry Cans of water, a 20 ft flag pole and all the other mission gear and rucks necessary to fight. This was carried up and in place by first light. Then they went to work. I did not ask them how long it took to dig down in the rocky soil on top of the hill, but there is a picture of the hole and some very tired looking guys. Then the mixing of the concrete and setting of the pole.
Now you all have seen the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima by the Marines. I saw tonight a picture of three men doing exactly the same thing on a hill in the Shalay Valley of the Konar which made me choke up. The emotion which was expressed in the pictures is beyond description. I was moved like I have seldom been; only the combat loss of men gets me as much as seeing this tonight. I was getting damned choked up as were these guys.
Then they presented me the American Flag which had flown that day.
That's when I lost it...
We all did.
After I recovered I thanked them but could not accept it as I had not been there, and this flag was a very important part of the teams history, and would return to the team room back at Ft Bragg. I did say that I would be honored to retain the next flag so long as I was along on the operation. They assured me that that would be soon.
It is just a month or so from being 40 years since I swore in on the Plain at West Point. In all these years, this has to rank up in the top one or two honors I have ever received.
You can rest soundly as there are men who are willing to do what it takes.
I am damned lucky and very proud to be able to serve with them."