BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — It’s easy to get complacent here when everything is quiet.
For the past five weeks, Alyssa and I have been tagging along on missions with Iowa and Nebraska soldiers without seeing much in the way of enemy contact.
You start to wonder whether that body armor and helmet are really necessary. They are heavy, after all, and it’s hard enough to move around this terrain or hop in and out of huge, armored trucks.
But yesterday we got a reminder of the dangers here while we were out with the Iowa Army National Guard soldiers from Bravo Troop, 1-113th Cavalry Squadron.
The convoy’s lead truck hit a roadside bomb early in the morning. Then the soldiers found multiple weapons stashes in a nearby village. And then they got into a firefight with a couple of men armed with AK-47s. The men didn’t want to give up and were ultimately killed.
A small scratch was the only injury among the U.S. soldiers. You can read our full account here.
The mission plan had called for us to be out of the mountains by dark, but we were late leaving, with all that had gone down. And the convoy included the wrecker towing that ruined lead truck, which slowed everything down.
So we found ourselves navigating white-knuckle mountain switchbacks and sheer drops in the dark.
Pfc. Nicholas Allen of Des Moines drove the truck I was in. Allen managed to find the road with the help of the truck commander, Staff Sgt. Daniel Young of Des Moines, and the gunner, Spc. Derek Finley of Des Moines. At times, Finley was holding a flashlight out the top of the truck to help illuminate the road.
Once we got out of the mountains and back on solid ground, the guys were able to resume cutting up in the way soldiers do.
Their shenanigans made for some much-needed comic relief after a long, sobering day.