In a long battle that lasted over six months the Army has finally decided to retain SFC Martland. SFC Martland faced expulsion from the Army after defending a child who was raped by a local Afghan. SFC Martland confronted the child rapist and is alleged to have engaged in a physical altercation. I don’t care what happened – because I think I understand the rage and anger he felt. That could have been me.

My A-team resided in a rural part of southern Afghanistan, in a village that had been a Taliban haven for years. There was no one to trust. We moved into a mud compound and maintained our directive to blend in. We had to build the infrastructure from scratch. There was a lot of work to do and not enough hands to help. There were simple things we needed help with, like filling sandbags and laundry. One day a few kids helped us pack sand bags. They loved it. While, Omar, an Afghan, assisted with the laundry.

The kids loved to help and were innocent, sweet, and fun. We gave them each a dinar for their support from our local worker fund. We had money for work for the locals to improve the base and help out. We even had an Afghan electrician come through and ensure we grounded and lined the compound correctly. That electrician had the worst smell I’ve ever encountered. Typing it now brings the smell back to my nose.

The leader of the kids went down to the local store, which had everything and could get you anything if you asked – and bought a large plastic container of candy and shared it with the rest of the village kids. He was named “Snacks.” The second kids, who always wore blue carried the moniker, “Blue.” Omar, the laundry specialist, was eventually let go as he was blatantly feeding information to the Taliban. He whipped his phone out to text in front of us during a mission brief. We were disappointed like when your friend does something foolish. We sent him on his way. The kids remained, and I enjoyed their company. They helped out now and then and were a joy to be around. Their jobs were simple things outside of our facility and they were only able to help when we had a down day from operations.