August was the deadliest month yet for U.S. troops in the 10 years of the Afghanistan war. Of the 67 killed last month, 30 died when a Chinook chopper was shot down. They included Army Spc. Alexander Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, a member of the helicopter's crew and who "was the gutsiest soldier I have ever met," said Sgt. Matthew Martinez of Poulsbo, who served with Bennett during an earlier tour. Bennett has just been added to SW's unfortunately lengthy War Dead pages--Facing Our Losses--along with six others with Washington state connections.
We also added a soldier whose death we missed in our earlier accounting--Army Cpl. Jason Bogar, 25, of Seattle, who died in a battle that claimed the lives of eight other soldiers in July 2008. He was remembered by his family as a fighter and a motivated photographer of civilians in the war zone. He also, relatives found out after his death when searching through his computer, kept a journal and had typed an unsent letter to his family in case he didn't make it back. His writings are the memorable thoughts of a soldier moved by the war he's seen. After the jump:
Journal Entries, Afghanistan
15 December 2007
I arrived at a little Forward Operating Base called Bella. As I got off the bird the first thing I noticed was that I was surrounded by high mountains. They put me in weapons squad as an Assistant Gunner. I have to carry 400-500 7.62 rounds. Witch weighs around 6 pounds every 100 rounds. That on top of all the other stuff I have to carry it's not easy humpin these mountains. I was put into an Airborne unit and me not having Airborne school I get allot of s--- for it.
While we were at Bella it was pretty bad. I lost my Platoon sergant SFC Kahler and was in around 10-15 firefights. The firefights weren't that bad but losing SFC Kahler was very hard on me and the other guys that have known him longer. He was shot in the head by supposedly allies that were manning one of the Observation Posts.
A patrol went out early in the morning to set up overlooking a village in an attempt to catch AAF [Anti American Forces]. He said to the men that were with him "I never like this, you guys find cover and I'll go up to get their attention." He walked up stating loudly we are Americans. From where he was standing he was siloueted against a roof with snow on it and American soldiers have very distinctive silouette with our Kevelar helmet and gear we wear. But was still shot in the head by Mohamed Din, A name and face that will forever be with me. If I ever see him I will do everything in my power to kill him even if it takes mine. The men that killed him dropped their weapons and ran after Mohamed Din shot him. It was planned and they all knew exactly what they were doing.
We arrived at Blessing
21 June 2008
We took indirect fires two days in a row. It's just a matter of time that the guy slips up and is killed. I just pray that no freindlys are hit before we kill him. Patrols have been slowing down but on the third our Platoon is going to Wanat. It's a little village inbetween where I am now and were I was for the first 6 months. The last three patrols that have gone out that way have either been hit with small arms and RPG's or had locals tell us that there was Taliban in the area. There is also Icom chat from Taliban that they have built up fighting positions and are just waiting for us. I think that we will see some pretty heavy fighting while we are out there.
Letter, To My Family
I feel my days are numbered so I want to say all this while I still can. I pray to god no-one will ever have to read this but as death is all around me if it falls upon me you will understand my recent feelings on this madness we call life.
My views and outlook on life seems to be drastically changing recently. As many of you saw before I left when I quit drinking, I was just starting to live my life. Never have I felt as strong as I do about what I am doing here in Afghanistan is the right thing to be doing and is understood and accepted by god. As a result of that death is easier to accept.
Coming back over here again seemed more appealing than being in America surrounded by Americans that are more concerned about there next new car, new house, celebrity, ect. Than the threat to the way of life of the west that is so prevalent in the places I've grown to accept as daily life. I hope one day there will be more Americans knowledgeable on the situation with terrorism in Afghanistan and how important it is that it's destroyed.
Being back here in Afghanistan is exactly were I was supposed to be and where I wanted to be. I feel I'm doing more good over here than I was as an electrician. I knew exactly what I was doing when I re-enlisted Infantry I'm just sorry that you all have to suffer for it now.
For me to prepare myself to take life without hesitation has been a very difficult thing to do. To take away another woman's son, husband, mans son, brother has always bothered me but through my eyes is understood by my god and I am forgiven. For the man that took my life more than likely for all he has known his whole life he feels the exact same way I do when he killed me. That is what scares me and I don't think is understood by disappointingly a huge percentage of Americans.
I've always used the analogy if your told the color blue is green your whole life and someone tells you it's actually blue they can give you all the facts in the world to prove it's blue but at the end of the day it's still green to you. The enemy were faced with is most of the time beyond words and it comes down to a sad but inevitable conclusion. We have to have young men that are willing to die to act on them and kill them before they can carry out any plans they have to kill innocent people because that is what they believe Allah wants, from distorted teachings of the Koran.
Know that you all are the reason I am here and to give my life for that is nothing to me. My love for every-one of you is what drives me and brings me comfort under stressful situations.
Carise let your child know of me and that even though I was never able to see he/she grow I love them more than they could imagine.