This morning I woke up, went to the bathroom and a female soldier told me, “Did you hear the good news?” We’ve been on high alert the past few days because of the prisoners escaping in Kandahar, so I assumed she was going to tell me we caught some bad guys and were no longer on alert. Little did I know she was going to tell me we caught the biggest bad guy. I was excited, happy, even exuberant. I thought it was pretty cool that years from now I’ll be able to say, yep I was in Afghanistan when Osama was killed. I’ve been reading, Where Men Win Glory, and in the book they discuss how close we came to killing Osama at the very beginning of the war, but he escaped due to our poor planning. I quickly got online and read as many news stories and Facebook status updates as I could. I saw one person comment on one of my coworker’s Facebook status, “I hope you guys are having a big party.”
Then just like any other day, I put my tennis shoes on one at a time and went to the gym. While I was there running on the treadmill, they came on with an announcement of a “controlled explosion.” This happens about every other day, or sometimes three or four times a day. It basically means they found an IED (improvised explosive device) on base or near base and are now detonating it. The soldier running next to me stopped on his treadmill and took his ear buds out when he heard the announcement come on, I’m sure he was checking to make sure it wasn’t a more dangerous warning.
Moments later “The Today Show” came on. I could not hear it, but I saw pictures of Osama, and video of American crowds cheering. I looked around me and not a single person was cheering, clapping or celebrating in any form… they were working.
Our brave men and women who are out here fighting for us, are going about doing what they do, continuing to work out to stay in the best shape, so they can do the best job they can. I swelled with pride. It was the proudest moment I have felt while doing my job these 7 months out here. I get the honor of serving them. They don't have time for a party, they are continuing to train and fight, because this is far from over. They might not have been on the mission to assassinate Osama, but in some way each and every single one of them contributed to bring an end to his terrorist reign. As I ran elated in this sense of awe, I looked at the troops around me and it was as if suddenly everything else turned blurry, and I focused in on their memorial tattoos and KIA bracelets and then gazed down at my own.
1LT Daren M. Hidalgo
KIA 20 February 2011 Mama Kiriz, Afghanistan
3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment
I couldn’t help but think, yeah we got this one bad guy, but at the cost of how many of our good guys?
I thought of all the Americans who now think the war is over. I got a message from a friend who said, “Does this mean you can come home now?” Far from it. The retaliation is sure to be strong, heavy and extremely dangerous.
As I finished up my run, I heard another announcement, it was the test for the “mass casuality” alarm.