Archive for Afghanistan

We remember

Posted in In country with tags , , , on October 29, 2009 by jetgwot

Soldiers honor fallen hero

FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan – Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment mourned the loss of a fallen Soldier during a memorial service Oct. 29 at Forward Operating Base Wilson.

PFC Devin J. Michel, of Stockton, Ill., died Oct. 24 when enemy forces attacked his platoon with an improvised explosive device. PFC Michel joined the Army in 2008 and deployed to Afghanistan on May 24, 2009. He leaves behind his wife, Anika.

“It is absolutely devastating to lose him to an incident like this after we have begun to make a difference in this critical area of Afghanistan,” said LTC Reik Andersen, 1-12 IN commander. “Our current successes on the field of battle can be squarely set on his shoulders as well as the shoulders of his valiant comrades of 3rd Platoon.”

Soldiers from the 1-12 IN Battalion Charlie Company, 3rd Platoon, remembered PFC Michel for his ability to make you laugh, his calm under fire and his unfaltering work ethic.

“Devin’s positive attitude, unwavering determination and courage are all qualities that he displayed on a daily basis,” said CPT Duke Reim, C-CO commander, as he recalled Michel in a firefight, firing his M4, radio strapped to his back, pausing to call up reports in between magazine changes. “Cool and calm, ‘The Rock,’” he said. “These I think will solidify his legacy among all who knew him. He is the very finest of America’s sons and we will always remember him.” Condolences

Friends of Michel — Soldiers who worked with him everyday — talked about the man they had grown to love.

“Devin Jay Michel was possibly one of the brightest, most courageous, dedicated men I have ever known,” said. PFC Robert Lyons, who talked about Michel giving up a basketball scholarship to instead join the U.S. Army and serve his country. “He was my best friend, my fellow Soldier, but more importantly, he was my brother. I love you Devin.”

SPC Tony Ruiz spoke of Michel as a friend who was always there for him.

“Michel was one of a kind, whose personality spoke for itself to those who knew him,” said Ruiz. “He touched our lives in his own way and became our brother. Until the time comes for us to meet at Heaven’s door, be at peace. Rest easy my brother, for the line has held, your job is done.”

The service ended with a 21-gun salute, taps and a flyover by two OH-58 Kiowa helicopters. Digital pictures of PFC Michel flashed on a screen before the memorial and as music played, hundreds of mourners moved in a long line in front of a set of symbolic remains to pay their last respects.

“Never drafted into war, Devin volunteered, in an America where things were good – no depression – he wanted to serve,” said Reim. “Michel gallantly approached his destiny with the family of C Company. Together, he has given selflessly to a noble cause. May God continue to bless us and guide our actions; and may he comfort Devin’s family in this, their time of need.”


This was written by SPC Tony Ruiz for PFC Devin Michel. May it comfort you during this difficult time. Please keep his wife Anika in your prayers.

I’m free

Don’t grieve for me, for now I’m free,

I’m following the path God laid for me,

I took his hand when I heard him call,

I turned my back and left it all.


I could not stay another day,

To laugh, to love, to work or play,

Tasks left undone must stay that way,

I found that place at the close of day


If my parting has left a void,

Then fill it with remembered joy,

A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,

Ah yes, these things, I too will miss.


Be not burdened with times of sorrow,

I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow,

My life’s been full, I’ve savored much,

Good friends, good times, a loved one’s touch.


Perhaps my time seems all too brief;

Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief,

Lift up your heart and share with me,

God wanted me now – He set me free


E-mail me

Posted in In country with tags , , , , on October 23, 2009 by jetgwot

A lot of you have expressed the interest in high-res photos that you’ve seen on the site. Until I come up with a better solution, go ahead and e-mail me at and list the post title and pictures you would like to have. As soon as I can, I’ll e-mail you the higher quality photos.

As always, feel free to ask the questions I might have forgotten to answer. If you are curious about anything, send those q’s too.

Today the first signs of rain rolled in — clouds. One cloud actually looked a bit threatening for a few minutes before it dissipated. Winter is starting to wave it’s cold hand at us.

A much-needed update

Posted in In country with tags , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by jetgwot

Hi everyone,

Let’s start off with today. I’m at Kandahar for a day to resupply on the necessities. We were running low on laundry soap and other essentials. I was hoping to pick up a small fridge, but they only had 220V fridges. No benne! Oh well. Warm water it is.

MAIL: So, all mail is being redirected to Wilson. If you Ramrodded it, don’t worry. It’s been showing up here at Wilson. For future reference, just switch FOB names and keep the rest the same.

Life on the FOB so far. Well, a new chow hall has opened although the Tuesday menu has stayed the same. Which means nothing but cereal, soup, and scrounge-a-meal-on-your-own. I hear rumors that the Tuesday famine might be changing. We’ll keep our stomachs crossed until then.

Some interesting news. I’ve arranged for Good Morning America to come out and cover the battalion. I can’t give exact dates, but I will be posting the dates that they will be shooting live the day or morning of the shoots. Keep an eye out for it, you’ll probably see some Soldiers you know on the show! Pretty cool, I thought so too.

What else can I tell you about the FOB. Oh, ok. We have a sand volleyball court. Typically you’ll find teams playing in the early evening when things cool off. The Canadian wireless internet is hit and miss — and from what I hear, is soon going to be a complete miss. Hopefully our S6 (comms) shop will have the MWR computers hooked up soon. Until then, we are fortunate to have the wireless.

Phones: Currently, there are no DSN phones to use unless Soldiers ask their company commanders to borrow their office phones. It’s in the works and routine calling should be available soon. So, it’s not that your hubby or wife doesn’t want to chat — they just don’t have the ability to do so.

Work: Things have been slow transitioning to the new FOB. Soldiers have been busy building their tents and making this “homey.” They are trying to clear a field for football and soccer and a running track should be grated soon. (We hope)

I’ve got some new pictures to post, but my camera is back at Wilson. I return shortly and will have some new ones to post.

Oh, we have a 30-45 minute wait for chow everyday. Why, you ask? Because they typically run out of food and if you don’t get there early, you usually end up with the scraps. Which, for those of us that could stand to lose a few pounds, it isn’t such a bad thing!

Alright, send me any questions you might have. Take care and I’ll be posting more frequently as long as the internet connection sticks with me.

Random stuff, camel spider — kid’s videos

Posted in In country with tags , , , , , on August 15, 2009 by jetgwot
mmmm, camel spider

mmmm, camel spider

So, I had heard about camel spiders here, but had not seen any until I was walking back to my tent tonight and saw this cute little guy crawling around. Finally, a camel spider. They are crazy little devils. This one kept trying to get under the rocks as if that would somehow protect him from the behemoth trying to get it’s picture.

Moving on, the next shot is of me in an MRAP while out on patrol. Awesome, I know.  Lastly, and what will probably get me in trouble with a lot of the Soldiers when I tell you this; I finished a mural today for a program the chapel hosts called, “United Through Reading.”

On patrol

On patrol

Basically, the chapel has children’s books, a video camera and until I finished the mural — a white “interrogation wall” as a backdrop. So, if you didn’t know about this program, e-mail that loved one of yours over here and tell him to make a video for you and the kids. Even if you don’t have kids, you can still record a message for your “special one” and the chapel will mail off a mini-dvd, free of charge. It’s a cool program and now it’s got an even cooler backdrop!

United Through Reading Mural

United Through Reading Mural

It’s all about the kids

Posted in Combat Skills Training with tags , , , , on August 13, 2009 by jetgwot

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 …

































































It’s the care from the package that matters

Posted in In country with tags , , , on July 8, 2009 by jetgwot

It doesn’t matter what’s in it. In fact, it’s more of the thought that counts. And, if you haven’t yet, finish reading this, go to the store, buy some “stuff” and send it off to whoever you know out here.

When you are deployed, receiving a care package is like waking up and realizing it’s Christmas. As soon as we hear the helicopter, or mailcopter as I like to call it, we dash to the connex and wait with eager anticipation of a care package. Alright, maybe we don’t dash their, but we certainly briskly walk to it.  Like I said, it doesn’t really matter what’s in it. It just means a lot to know someone was thinking about you stateside.

A church of my parents sent me about 20 letters thanking me for my service and praying for my safety while I was here. It was so thoughtful and made my day. I was sitting in the chow hall when someone walked in and handed me a bundle of letters. I felt loved.

So as much as that Soldier might tell you he doesn’t want you to send him anything — do it anyway. We can’t get anything much of anything in this dustbowl, so even if you raid your pantry and throw in some granola bars, some fig newtons and a box of cereal, it will make their day — possibly even their week.


Posted in In country with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2009 by jetgwot
Flyleaf in concert at FOB Ramrod

Flyleaf in concert at FOB Ramrod

The band Flyleaf touched down at Forward Operating Base Ramrod July 5 to the delight of hundreds of Soldiers and civilians. The band held a meet and greet with the Soldiers and then went over to the Canadian Artillery side of the base and fired off several 155mm illumination rounds. They can shoot up to 40 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy.

After that, they held a two-hour concert on our makeshift stage directly between the chapel and our Rocky-style gym. It was a great time and a much-needed morale booster for everyone here. Who would have thought in Southern Afghanistan that we would be listening to an internationally known “Christian” Rockband?

The band left early the next day, but they stayed after the concert to sign everything from scraps of paper to Soldiers shirts. I’m sure we’ll see some of the items being auctioned on E-bay.

I’d like to personally thank Flyleaf for coming out here. For two hours no one thought of fighting, or worried about their next patrol; they just stood their smiling and singing along with a band who wanted to show their appreciation for all the military does. Thanks Flyleaf!