It’s all about the kids


DSC_0166It’s a side not often seen in the media — but I couldn’t help but smile yesterday as Soldiers passed out candy and played with the Afghan children in a village about 15 minutes from Ramrod.

While Soldiers from Charlie Company and members of the Human Terrain Team (HTT) were conducting a village assesement with the village elder, Afghan children began coming out of the compounds, shy at first, but soon they were laughing and playing games with the Soldiers.

Some of my favorite pictures were taken yesterday as the children curiously examined their reflections in my camera lens. Little did they know I was actually taking their picture. Other children played copycat games with the Soldiers and one boy asked to have a snake drawn on his arm, “just like the tattoo on one of the Soldier’s arm.”

Others gave high fives and some showed the kids how to arm wrestle. I have two small children and being with these kids helped fill the gap I feel everyday being away from my prince and princess back home.

Overall the village assesment went well. The goal of C-co and HTT is to figure out if the Taliban are living in the village or to find out where they might be. In addition, HTT will work with villages to get them wells, electricity and other needs they might have in exchange for keeping the Taliban out of their villages. A win-win situation for everyone involved. Or so we hope …

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19 Responses to “It’s all about the kids”

  1. Great pics! How can you go wrong taking photos of kids? Another soldier blog posted photos of the soldiers passing out soccer balls to kids – Kick for Nick organization – pretty cool group.

  2. Youth. Despite the conditions and hardship these kids live in, they still posess that innocent curiosity. These kids will remember this interaction for the rest of their lives. Well done.

    I can’t help but love the boys looking at their reflections. Black and white is a perfect choice.

    The girl in red is mesmerizing, she brings back memories of the famous National Geographic cover from ’85, “The Afghan Girl”. Such depth of emotion and soul showing in her eyes.

    • Heath,
      You are right, it definitely reminds me of that cover photo. So many children are cover worthy it’s a shame the conditions they live in. Children are always fun to photograph, this day was just extra special for me.

  3. Great job guys!

  4. Thank you for everything you are doing..for our country…for the world…and for each individual that has come to depend on your blog.

    • Aunt Lee,
      Thanks for your kind words. I started this blog to keep family and friends up-to-date on what was going on with me while I was deployed. Little did I know the impact it would have on not just them, but the entire battalion and perfect strangers who have formed a common bond around our deployed Soldiers. Keep us in your prayers.

  5. Angela, Bryan, and Daniel Says:

    Awesome pictures! I am sure that spending time with the kids helped some of the loneliness of missing your kids. Thank you once again for everything you are doing. You are awesome! 🙂

    • Well, I don’t know if I’m awesome, but the pictures seemed to have turned out better than expected. Thanks for your constant prayer and encouragement. It means a lot.

  6. You seriously need to publish a book with all your photography when you get home….you’re an awesome photographer.

  7. Great photos. It’s amazing how kids of all races, colors, ethnicities behave the same way with that sense of amazement and wonder regardless of where they are in the world. You captured those emotions well in your photos. I too thought of that National Geographic cover photo of the Afghan girl back in the 80’s.

  8. 3starfamily Says:

    Just found your blog. I’m astounded at what we can see from it. My son was in Iraq until recently, and we would have loved to have timely news from that AO. Thanks for all the great info, photos, etc……but especially your service. Praying for your safety. I have a nephew in Dog Co. 1-12 When you next go back to Rath, please post more photos of them. his mom and dad would benefit by seeing the area and troops.

  9. Deanna Louderback Says:

    i SEND CARE PACKAGES AND LETTERS TO MANY OF THE TROOPS THERE AND KNOWING THAT CANY AND GAMES ARE A GREAT THING TO INCLUDE IN THOSE CARE PACKAGES, I WILL SEND MORE. THE PICTURES ARE WONDERFUL THANK YOU JUSTIN.
    ANGEL, DEANNA LOUDERBACK

  10. Mike Morrissey Says:

    I teach middle school children on an Arizona Indian reservation. My nephew, Robert Lyons, is in Charlie company. Some of the students in my class would like to correspond with the soldiers. Do you think that is acceptable and how might we begin? Thanks for all you are doing and please be careful.

  11. Justin,

    I love all of your photos and catching a better glimpse into the lives of our soldiers from a soldier’s point of view and not the media’s. Praying for you!

  12. Deanna Louderback Says:

    It gives me great honor to be a soldiers angel and be able to send small care packages full of needed personal items but I always put candy and small toys so they have stuff for the kids.
    I adopted the Ramrod troop to write to and send these small gifts to. The trrp is so grateful and write me letters od thanks which I am so hapy tp get but these pictures tell a thousand words to see the smile on a childs face makes all the difference in the world.
    Much Love and appreciation to my adopted soldiers.
    I Love you all,
    Deanna

  13. Thanks so much for posting your blog… youre with the unit that my husband is with (BN S3) and seeing your pictures kinda fills in what cant be said over the phone! My kids also like seeing the other kids half way around the world!

  14. I just stumbled across your blog and I will keep following your journey. My husband is also in the Air Force and we found out his training starts in CST starts in Jan. most likely then off to Afghanistan. It will be our first deployment so it’s nice for me to be able to read about your experiences over there since it seems he will be doing the same thing.

  15. Jetgwot,

    I am a member of the group, Soldier’s Angels and have adopted a soldier from Charlie Co/1-12 at FOB RAMROD, and that is how I found your blog. I absolutely love your photos! You have an amazing talent! I am a photographer, so I appreciate seeing the work of others. Seeing the soldier’s view of life in ‘Stan is better than the view from our media. They capture the bad, not the everyday! You are awesome. Thank you for sharing.
    You are truly an inspiration! I pray for my “Hero” and the entire group of soldiers at RAMROD daily. I wish I could adopt all of you. If you can send me your name, I would love to send you a note. Also, please email the names of anyone at RAMROD that could benefit from some “Back-Home TLC”. That is what Soldier’s Angels and myself are here for!
    Be Safe and GOD Bless all of you for the wonderful work you are doing to keep us back home safe! May you get back home to your family soon.
    Jan

  16. Ditto to all of the above. You have brought a better and deeper understanding of the war to me. The children are beautiful, life goes on day by day and yet our hearts are wrenched by the inevitable danger. Please be careful and remember that you and all the other soldiers are in our prayers and not forgotten.
    Thank you also to the parents and families of these young men and women. They are truly inspirational. God BLess. Jane

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