By late March we knew we were winding down. We had a stellar track record in Afghanistan, but we’d been in this theater of operations for close to six months, and soon it would be time to rotate back home. As it happened, the Germans were about to rotate in a new crew themselves, and the group that was getting ready to leave wanted to have us over for one last get-together before they were gone.

This time the party was held at our compound, around a raging bonfire.

That night the Taliban were shooting mortars at us. They were staged pretty far away and weren’t likely to score a hit. There was nothing for us to do about it, anyway; we weren’t responsible for camp security, and the army was dealing with it. So we just treated their firepower like fireworks. Every time another mortar went off the Germans would yell, “Prost!” and raise their beers in the air. We thought it was pretty hilarious.

Late that night, as we were enjoying ourselves, drinking, listening to the stereo, and laughing every time the Germans raised a toast to another futile Taliban mortar round, I heard a loud voice yell, “Turn that fucking music off!” I looked around and saw that someone’s head had popped up over the wall that separated our compound from the one next door. 


At Kandahar, there was a small camp where all the Air Force Combat Controllers hung out. We had Brad and Eric, our two CCTs, living with us, but there was a small contingent of CCTs who were piecemealed out to various other units. Among them were the two young Combat Controllers that Chief Dye had fired in Oman. Even though they were no longer with our platoon, they had still come over to Kandahar and were now living with the other Combat Controllers in this compound — which ironically enough, had ended up being moved right next door to us. 

These two guys had not gotten over what happened in Oman. We would see them passing around the base, and they were clearly copping an attitude and trash-talking our platoon. They had gone to their OIC, an air force major, and given him their story on what went down — who knows how they’d described it — and we could tell he wasn’t very happy with us. This major was a big, burly dude, six-foot-six, looked like he could rip your arms off with his bare hands. We’d heard he was very big in mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting.

The issue got to the point where Brad and Eric went over and talked with this major and gave him their perspective. “Listen,” they said, “we’ve worked closely with this platoon for quite a while now, and these are good guys. We know those two young Combat Controllers weren’t happy about what happened in Oman, but there are two sides to every story, and the truth is, those two young fellows have a lot to learn.” They came back and told us there shouldn’t be any more problem, that they’d cleaned up the tension there.