Parallel Worlds

Today was a rough day mentally. It was my daughter's birthday back in 2011; around 0945. I was escorting an asphalt truck in with tar. We went through the normal procedures of setting the RF jammers on and took the driver to a container to get his bio-sensor read to verify who he was. It came back he had ties with the Taliban 2x prior so I took extra caution looking at his vehicle. The vehicle, from anyone's point of view, was extremely clean for being out in a desert. At this time I was at Camp Marmal known as Mazar-E Sharif. It was a NATO compound. Upon inspecting the truck more my stomach became uneasy seeing 1 copper wire out of place leading from the cab to the bed of the truck. I then told my senior NCO who [was] told "If you feel uncomfortable about it there's a reason, so cut it". Without any prior bomb disposal training I grabbed a Gerber and dropped my plate carrier and cut the wire, running away like I had a lion chasing me.

  After 3 hours of the longest morning we were able to call it all clear and was able to resume normal operations. As soon as I went back to the driver door a cell phone went off in the cab that no one had seen. We cut open the cab in search for it. They had placed it under the dash next to the steering column with one number that was repeated but always cancelled before voicemail. The wire lead to a 50-gallon drum in the bed of the truck buried in the tar and tested positive for C4. Two hours later I found out my wife gave birth around 2 PM Afghanistan time. It messed my head up knowing that she could of possibly been without a father.

Immediately I went into fight or flight mode for 3 months and couldn't sleep. I was constantly late to morning formations and that wasn’t good because I was the XO driver as a PFC. I was pending a field Article 15, but at the same time I had an award written for me with valor. I approached my 1Sgt and they said if I took the award they would have to give [me] the article 15. I asked if I didnt accept it, what then. They shrugged their shoulders and looked around the room. I left as soon as possible without touching anything because my rank and pay meant more than a shiny medal. That was the first time I felt used while in the service and the counseling for behavioral health was just to put me on sleep meds; which I didn’t want to be like my uncle and get dependent on them. I relive this story every year and it feels like it gets worse as time goes on. I have been to behavioral health and it seems like they don’t know what to say when I share [with] them my experience  as a non-EOD person doing something that extreme...

- Anonymous


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