A Sergeant with the U.S Army 34th Infantry Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment, Task Force Redhorse, scans a nearby mountain range during a search of the Qual-e Jala village, in Afghanistan, Feb. 21, 2011.
Ten years ago on February 26, 2004, I said goodbye to my wife and family and boarded a bus with my fellow soldiers, leaving home to begin our training for our tour in the war in Afghanistan. It was the beginning of a year and a half of total Army control over our lives.
I rode that bus, sitting next to a nineteen-year-old soldier who wasn’t even a year out of high school. He still signed his name, “Timmy.” He cried for the first part of that journey, and we all paid him the polite courtesy of pretending we hadn’t seen his tears.
Over a year later, Timmy made it home. Everyone in my unit returned. Of the 800 or so soldiers in our task force, all but one survived our time in Afghanistan. But as I read my old notebook entries from those days, I know now that none of us returned home quite the same.
Great news! The 34th Infantry Division has granted permission for the use of its insignia image on the jacket for my upcoming novel IF YOU’RE READING THIS! Let’s make sure history never forgets The Mighty Red Bull!