Showing posts with label military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military. Show all posts

Monday, June 3, 2019

Dog Company: A True Story of American Soldiers Abandoned by Their High Command Book Review

Troops at FOB Airborne preparing for a mission.
Each year over Memorial Weekend, I deliberately spend some time learning about and remembering our American military individuals who have given their lives in service to their country. This year I read Dog Company: A True Story of American Soldiers Abandoned by Their High Command and I am still reeling from what I read - knowing this is a story our government would prefer it's civilians not know. 

I already had some understanding that our troops who were deployed to Afghanistan often lived in very dangerous and "austere" conditions. I also had some awareness that rules of engagement made it difficult for our troops to stay alive. But authors Lynn Vincent and Roger Hill paint a detailed picture of how completely impossible the situations over there really were - and some reasons why so many families back home lost their loved ones.


Dog Company: A True Story of American Soldiers Abandoned by Their High Command by Lynn Vincent and Roger Hill


Dog Company is partially a day-in-the-life portrait of soldiers trying to carry out their missions in Wardak Province, Afghanistan and partially a court drama with accusations of war crimes. I'm immediately hooked in the story - getting to know the handful of soldiers at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Airborne.
'Sargeant Raul Lopez, the platoon sergeant at Sayed Abad Base, coming through his cell: "The CLP didn't bring any food and water with them this time, sir" '
Life sustaining supplies weren't getting through to Captain Roger Hill's troops. Not because they were cut off by the bad guys but due to the complacency or ineptitude of the leadership. The book begins with plans to move supplies from FOB Airborne to Sayed Abad.

The descriptions of the dusty dirt roads, narrow cliff-hugging mountainous roads barely wide enough for the vehicles, and how the men jumped into action every time something went wrong made me feel as though I were watching it all. 

All supplies, not just food and water, were in short supply. Vehicles were unreliable. There were not enough men to guard the FOBs. At night, our guys put dummies up to look like there were more overnight guards and a larger presence than there really was.

And if that wasn't bad enough, they learn that there are spies among them, Afghan Nationals approved to work on the FOBs, giving the information to the Taliban to set ambushes. Ambushes like the one that killed Carwile and Conlon.


Remembering...


On that supply run, to deliver the food and water that Battalion (the higher-ups) couldn't seem to supply, two soldiers lost their lives.

Lieutenant Donnie Carwile:


"Formerly enlisted, Carwile, twenty-nine, had put himself through college while working as a policeman in Oxford, Mississippi, then returned to the Army as an officer."

SPC Paul Conlon:


"Back in June, Conlon, twenty-one, of Mashpee, Massachusetts, had taken heavy shrapnel wounds during a vicious firefight. this trip to Sayed Abad was his first chance to bet back into the field with his platoon brothers, and he was pumped."

Throughout the book, many other men were physically wounded. Yet they all wanted to remain to continue the mission and to continue to take care of each other the best they could in these dire circumstances.




Rules of Engagement


Due to the rules of engagement during that period of time, the procedures (or lack thereof) for handling dangerous detainees, and the lack of support on these distant FOBs, caused life and death decisions at every moment. In trying to prevent more of his men being killed in action, CPT Roger Hill made a decision that some view as criminal. He and First Sargeant Scott are carted off to military court due to their decisions and actions.

I found this story to be riveting; both the stories of the missions and the description of the court process. 

As an army mom, I appreciate CPT Roger Hill and his attempts to protect his men, including sacrificing his finances and his career. I don't know that his decision was the right choice - the line between right and wrong is often thick and blurry. But I also don't think he was given any other choice - except to watch more of his men die. I also appreciate First Sargeant Scott and his determination to follow his conscience against the odds.

This book was written via accessing many sources including: interviews of the men of Dog Company and others deployed with them, review of the documents used at the Article 32 hearing, the criminal investigation reports, and more. The authors also submitted the manuscript to be reviewed for issues of national security. As a result, there are portions of the book that are redacted. 

I am extremely grateful to Lynn Vincent and Roger Hill for going through all that they have in order to publish this story and shine a light on what some of our troops have gone through at the direction of our country. 

Photo Credit: public domain photo by Spc. Justin French. Delta Company, 2nd of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division - FOB Airborne. Original photo cropped due to space considerations.

Previous Memorial Day readings:

Mindfulness on Memorial Day 2018. In 2018, I learned about the Bataan Death March. Prior to that time, I had not heard a thing about the invasion of the Philippines and the thousands of POWs held from 1942 to 1945. 

Mindfulness on Memorial Day 2017.  In 2017, I read World Changer: A Mother's Story: The Unbreakable Spirit of US Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn. Karen Vaughn wrote about her son, memorializing him and writing with such honesty that I sobbed. 




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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Black Rifle Coffee Reviewed

Good Coffee Supports Veterans

Coffee Made With Vets in mind. Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Black Rifle Coffee is more than just a good cup of brew for your enjoyment, it is a company with a purpose that I can get behind and I think you might, also. 

I have reviewed several blends of coffee over the years and that is because I really do love a good cup of coffee. Recently, my husband saw a piece on television that piqued his interest and he ordered a variety pack of coffee from the Black Rifle Coffee Company. We have not been disappointed with the coffee and we are happy to support their mission.

What? A coffee company with a mission? Well, I guess most do have a mission and that would be to sell a lot of coffee. Am I right? This company is different. Oh sure, they want to sell a lot of coffee but let me explain about these guys. 

The company was started by military veteran Evan Hafer in his garage with about $1800 dollars as working capital. He wanted to create good coffee because during his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan he found that the option for coffee was pretty awful and he loves a good cup of 'Joe'. Then he had an idea that he presented to one of his veteran buddies. What if, they made coffee and employed veterans in the process? There are many unemployed vets around the country that they would like to help, not with handouts but with employment. That is where the dream started and it is working!

Right now, they have two actual stores that employ veterans along with a manufacturing facility that also employs vets. They are working on getting more stores built around the company and have gained quite a presence with online sales. The last report that I saw says that they have something like 104 employees with that number including about 47 or more veterans. Another thing that I like about these guys is that they also have several women in the company, many of which are in upper management.

So, what about the coffee? Well, I'm here to tell you that it really is good! In our variety pack we received:

  • AK47 
  • JB (Just Black)
  • BB (Beyond Black)
  • SS (Silencer Smooth)
All of them make a great tasting cup of coffee! My favorite is the AK47 with a solid boldness about it. My husband likes all of them but his favorite is the JB blend. There are other blends that we can try but we wanted to start with the variety pack first. 

I like that this company was formed by Veterans of our military and that they support the hiring of veterans in their company. They know first hand what a soldier goes through when he or she returns from deployment in war torn areas. PTSD, disabling injury, and depression are common in Vets from any conflict. Who better to help them cope than people who have been through the same experience?

Some find the company a little controversial because of their support of guns. I personally do not. These guys were in our military, they put their lives on the line and of course they know guns. It was very much a part of their jobs while they served our country. To me, that isn't something to condemn them for, we should applaud that they are providing opportunities for their fellow veterans while operating a worthwhile business. 

I think that families that have members who have served will appreciate this company and its goals along with getting the pleasure of drinking a really great cup of coffee. 





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