I am currently at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, going through the ‘demobilization’ process before returning to Minnesota. It is funny, in a disappointing way, that I had better internet access in Afghanistan than I do here. But no worries, in a couple days I will be on the internet from the comfort of my own home.
My first ‘real’ post since arriving on US soil is written with a heavy heart. I have struggled, not knowing if I should do it or not. But after thinking about it for the last week, I decided it was important to recognize the sacrifice of these young men.
For me, Sunday, 16 September 2012 began like any other; I woke up around 0400 and talked to my family via Skype. I then checked the weather & flight schedule to determine if we would be leaving. At that point, around 0500 it was unknown if the birds would fly, but we were scheduled for 0800. I went ahead and packed everything up with the hopes that the air would improve and it would be my last day on FOB Apache.
Around 0700 we learned that our flight was on weather-hold, but a tentative fly time of 1000. A short time later I learned that there had been an incident, with ISAF casualties, up at COP Mizan during the night. As you know, COP Mizan was my favorite place to be in Afghanistan and I had been lucky enough to spend several weeks up there over the past 11 months.
Although I don’t claim to know the Soldiers there well, it is a very small place, so I knew most of their names, so I wanted to know what had happened & to whom. It was heartbreaking to find out that four young Soldiers lost their lives early that morning (read DoD Press Release). I ‘knew’ 2 of the 4 killed and have included a few pictures of SGT Nena & PFC Bedoy here. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of SPC Nelson or PFC Townsend.
It is never easy to read of the loss of a Soldier, but it is that much harder when it is someone you know, even if it is not much more than a casual acquaintance. I had met them, talked to them, took their pictures…these four young professionals were my kids’ age. They could have been my sons…their deaths really struck me in a way I would not have predicted. I was not only sad for the Soldiers and their families, but also for their buddies that will continue the mission with a significant hole in their ranks.
The weather finally did improve and we were able to leave Apache around 1630 that afternoon, but my excitement for leaving was overshadowed by the loss of those four young men and how it would impact the small ‘family’ of Soldiers continuing the mission at COP Mizan.
Please take a moment in memory of these four young Soldiers, their families and the Soldiers still serving without their buddies at their side.
I was able to find information for memorial sites for SGT Nena, PFC Bedoy & PFC Townsend.
Out of Town please send checks to
Amarillo National Bank
P.O Box 1
Amarillo, TX 79125
Family of Jon Townsend
17910 S. 4170 Rd.
Claremore, OK 74017
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.