A Conversation Before Heading Out to Afghanistan
EDITOR’S NOTE: “Conversations” is an occasional WestVirginiaVille series featuring interesting exchanges from Facebook, blogs, e-mails, non-fiction or wherever two or more human beings talk of something interesting/significant/real. My good friend Albert Perrone recently published this exchange to Facebook. It’s reprinted here with permission. The young soldier is from West Virginia and would sometimes attend Albert’s meditation sessions at his old Sacred Ground store in Princeton, W.Va. | Suggest a Conversation.
Albert Perrone: where are you now?
Young Soldier: still in alaska, but we leave for deployment on ***.
AP: to where?
Young Soldier: afghanistan
AP: how busy is it there?
Young Soldier: It’s pretty rural for the most part, but 60% of the population is educated. in that district, but there’s also a lot of “support” from pakistan. a lot of foreign fighters and trained military guys are fighting for the taliban.
Young Soldier: but the good news is the unit we’re replacing over there had 14 casualties over the last year. 9 of them could have been prevented. They were national guard, which aren’t really as well trained or as disciplined as a regular army unit.
AP: 100% of the casualties can be avoided… if no one went.
Young Soldier: yeah I know.
AP: Well, are you ready?
Young Soldier: I think we’ll do well. I’m optimistic about it. sometimes i feel like the people i work with are a bunch of idiots. but we also do really well in our training exercises. our company went to the joint readyness training center in louisiana which is where everyone has to go through once before each deployment. anyways they give you a grade on how well you do in their scenario based training. they actually put you in a mock town with hired actors to play the role of civilians and the “enemy.” They said that most standard line companys come out with a “C”. We’re a weapons company which has half the amount of guys of a standard line company. We actually did better than most and we got an “A” after it was all said and done.
AP: Can you reach me on the internet after you’re there?
Young Soldier: yeah, actually we’ll have internet at the place were going and i should be able to get on fb most of the time.
AP: how long will you be there?
Young Soldier: 9 to 10 months
AP: Well, I’ll be here waiting to hear the news.
Young Soldier: cool beans. they made me an AG (assistant gunner) not too long ago. It’s considered a senior role, so I’m pretty happy about that.
AP: What will you be riding in?
Young Soldier: they’re called max pros, which are really big trucks with a turret mounted on top. they have these ones now called the crow system, which basically is a gun with a camera mounted on top, so the gunner doesn’t even have to be exposed. I’m only an AG on dismounted patrols, since you don’t need them when mounted. I’m basically the guy who directs the fire of the guy using the machine gun and helps control his rate of fire so he doesn’t burn up his ammunition.
AP: what kind of weapon?
Young Soldier: 240 bravo. its basically what replaced the m60
Young Soldier: lol, well its 650-950 for a cyclic rate of fire. sustained is 100 rpm with a 6-9 round burst, 4-5 sec rest in between. rapid is 200 rpm with a 10-13 round burst with a 2-3 sec rest.
AP: how well protected is the truck? IED?
Young Soldier: it holds up really well against most ieds, depending on what you get hit with. but they have some that will stand a truck straight up.
AP: sweet dreams, if you dream.
Young Soldier: lol, thanks. but really the biggest threat from ieds isn’t the ied itself, it’s the ambush that follows it.
AP: Dude, it’s totally beyond me why anyone would put themselves in that kind of situation.
Young Soldier: Yeah. I guess I’ve always just felt compelled that the warrior path was the right thing for me to do. I’m not really afraid to die, because I know I’ll be in a good place anyways. Not that I’m in a hurry to die or anything, but I just feel like it’s something that I’m good at and if I can make that sacrifice to make the world better then that makes it worth it to me.
AP: I understand. This conversation is freaking me out. You take care and get your ass back here in one piece. I’ll be here when you do, and anytime we can connect while you’re there. God bless you.
Young Soldier: lol, sorry about that. Thanks though, I really appreciate it
AP: One more thing….
Young Soldier: yeah?
AP: Is there any reason you would NOT want me to post this conversation, without your name of course.? Anything secret in your info? I guess I should eliminate place names dates etc.
Young Soldier: where i’m going. dont say anything about it other than its afghanistan. other than that, go for it.
AP: Thank you. Sleep well. Talk as soon as possible.
Young Soldier: Thanks man, you too.
~ A Facebook Exchange Considered as a Beckett Script