Wednesday, 19 June 2013

It has been an emotionally exhausting 24 hours. As you likely know, 4 were killed and a few were injured in a rocket attack on Bagram last night. The odd thing is, I didn't even hear the attack. I certainly heard the incoming alarms go off, and I "sheltered in place" as ordered by the Garrison voice on the loud speaker. My friends and I wondered where it hit and if it was a false alarm and when we could go back to work.

About an hour after the incident, a military police friend came into the office and was clearly upset. The MPs act as first responders for the incidents and he was able to tell me a bit more about what happened. Then about 4am our time the news broke on CNN and I got a call from the Red Cross Center in Ft Sill Oklahoma doing an accountability check on our team. Once the news broke, we knew we were in for a rough morning.

My shift ended at 0500 and at 0900 I came back to the office and my team leader and I went over to the hospital. We didn't get two feet in the door before an armed guard insisted on seeing our IDs. We went first to speak to the staff and patients who were in the ICU. Then we made our way to the Intermediate Care Ward. Both the ICU and the Ward had patients from the attack last night. In a tragic coincidence, the patient in the ICU recognized our team leader from a Memorial Ceremony for a Sergeant that was killed in her unit just a few weeks ago. She even remembered our team leader laying a coin on his casket as traditional act of military honor. We were also informed that there would be several purple heart ceremonies taking place today, but because the fallen were based on Bagram, it was advised that there may not be any room for additional guests.

We are putting together a care package for the team in the ER because by all accountants they witnessed the worst of it. We also learned that the Veterinary team, the guys who let me come over and play with the working dogs, were called into the office last night during the attack because their clinic, attached to the hospital, was converted into a temporary morgue. They spent the night in their own clinic with the bodies of the fallen. My team leader and I wanted to do something special to support them and provide them a bit of a distraction so we invited them over to our canteen tonight and threw them a pizza party. They put on a movie and we stuffed them with pizza and girl scout cookies and tried to bring their day to a better end.

My heart goes out to those who did not survive, who woke up with me yesterday morning in Afghanistan, and went to work and went to the gym and could not have known how this would end. Please remember them and their sacrifice. To remember them is to honor them and that is one of the greatest things left in our power to do.

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