Deployment Journal: A somber New Year

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
The midnight air was icy cold here Dec. 31, 2010, as hundreds of Italian, Spanish, American and Albanian servicemembers rung in the New Year with a crisp salute and final farewell to their fallen brother.

Though most around the globe celebrated the passing year and coming of the next, we were somber here.

Between my Afghan deployments and time at Dover Air Force Base, Del., I've seen my share of flag-draped transfer cases.

Some contained the remains of my fallen friends, others acquaintances and some I never had the privilege of meeting - but all lived and died in honor, which allowed most of this globe to peacefully celebrate another New Year.

I was at a small forward operating base in western Farah Province as recent as Christmas day.

Ironically, while my Italian brother, Corporal Major (E-4) Matteo Miotto, was shot by a sniper while standing guard at that same base, I was in Herat City and bore witness to what's possible here - the reason we continue to sacrifice.

Walking the streets of Herat or viewing the city from the high walls of the citadel, a castle believed to have original lineage to a castle built on the same site by Alexander the Great, one can see progress and commerce first-hand.

The streets of Herat are filled with working people, vendors and even children playing in the alleyways and the park across from the citadel.

Trust me when I say that this is not what you'd witness in much of Afghanistan ... but it could be. Once security is established, development can follow.

The coalition can't do this on our own, Afghans need to begin to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and stand their ground when insurgents enter their villages. The task is a great one, but the rewards can be seen in a few select pockets of the land.

If I had my way, I'd bring each and every coalition soldier and Afghan to the citadel in Herat City and as they peered across the land, I'd explain that what you see is worth fighting for - that there's hope here.

In the meantime, I'm certain that more will give all for that struggle.

Recalling whatever you did at the stroke of midnight this past Dec. 31, I wish the same for the people here because it's possible, and many fine soldiers continue to sacrifice all they are for the Afghans who deserve the same.