Dispatch: An Afghan Story

Dispatch: An Afghan Story

by Michael Yon

Download the full article: An Afghan Story

Published 9 May 2010

If normal life were a river, most days would likely be a slow-moving, meandering passage. But when a life squeezes into the gorge of war, there can be a deafening whitewater, falls and yet bigger falls, slams against stones, falls again and underwater no air and over the falls again and time stretches and compresses and seems to defy normal experience and over the falls again and you drown or don't. Some people come out the other side exhilarated and want to do it again and again, while others are terrified, and yet others will just do what needs to be done. The persistence of the memories wrought would seem to leave clocks drooped over limbs or floating away.

From wars grow countless wild stories, many of which are true. Even a single witness will hear thousands over the years. Back at home, the retellings can seem vague, distant, and as soulful as a sole-less boot. But when you are in a war zone with civilians or combat troops, some stories might start like, "Be careful here. This is where Jimmy got blown up," and there is still a crater and all the branches are blown off a nearby tree. Later in the day, "Be careful here, bullets sometimes come through that window," and there are pocks on the walls inside the room. The retellings are not secondhand, not ancient, but immediate and pressing. In the wars, stories are road signs to the here and now, and so you seek out stories not for entertainment. They are not entertaining anyway. Few people likely would be entertained by the story of their own death. "This is where the suicide bomber hit," and you are standing there, knowing lightning makes habits.

Captain Max Hanlin of Charlie Company 1-17th Infantry was living with his soldiers at the Shah Wali Kot District Center in northern Kandahar Province, and he said to me from across the tent that the District Governor for Shah Wali Kot district had some interesting stories that should be told. We walked out to the perimeter under the watchful eye of a machine gunner in his guard-post, and around the corner to see the District Governor so that something useful could get out.

Download the full article: An Afghan Story

Michael Yon is a former Green Beret who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. Michael's dispatches from the frontlines have earned him the reputation as the premier independent combat journalist of his generation. His work is published at Michael Yon Online and has been featured on Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, ABC, FOX, as well as hundreds of other major media outlets all around the world.

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