The other day I noticed a Faceliftbook post put up by my friend girl who has been close by my work daily for a better part of the last decade. She is of normal human variety in a sense, southern and straight up. Actually many years ago she asked me to document her wedding up in Lincoln County with my camera, so I wore shorts and brought Mary (German Shepherd) as an assistant and date. Clear Carolina skies and plenty of green earth spread out towards the long tall tree line with its full saturated green tops blowing gently in the wind.
T saw the following little nugget on one of her friend's wall, and because she agreed with the info transfer, she posted it up on hers:
"Charlie Sheen, 47, is all over the news because he's a CELEBRITY DRUG ADDICT! While Andrew Wilfahrt, 31, Brian Tabada, 21, Rudolph Hizon, 22, and Chauncy Mays, 25, are soldiers who gave their lives this week with no media mention. Please Honor them by posting this as your status for a little while, or at least Pray for their families. May they rest in peace. SALUTE!"
Exactly, was my immediate cerebral response. Then feeling kicked in and I had to figure out why I had never heard of these names, or recognized their faces in three dimensions on the movie screen at the front of my mind. You know, like I can do with a celebrity (film or blog, it's both the same), a corporate logo, or a hemlock tree for that matter. The Internet provided answers to a few of my initial questions, however it is limited in visceral capacity to give me what I am really looking for. I feel that it is important to share the identities of the four men named above who died in multiple incidents, in several provinces of Afghanistan between Sunday and Monday of last week. Upon looking in I found out that there should have been five names listed on the post, here they are in alphabetical order:
Rudolph Hizon: This 21 year old was with 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Ft. Polk, La. According to the State Department, Hizon was killed while operating in Logar Province Afghanistan on February 28, 2011.
Chauncy R. Mays: 25 year old Mays was with the 63rd Explosive Ordinance Disposal Battalion, 20th Support Command out of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. According to records, Mays was killed on the ground in Wardak Province Afghanistan on February 28, 2011.
Christopher Stark: Stark, 22 years was in the same unit as Mays, the 63rd Explosive Ordinance Disposal Battalion, 20th Support Command out of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. He too lost his life on the same day (February 28, 2011) as Mays while fighting on behalf of America in Wardak Province Afghanistan.
Brian Tabada: This 21 year old soldier was with the First Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, First Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division based out of Fort Campbell Kentucky. According to Defense Department records for the public, Tabada was killed while carrying out combat duties in Kunar Province Afghanistan on February 28, 2011.
Andrew Wilfahrt: Wilfahrt was a 31 year old MP with 552 Military Police Company, "The Peace Keepers". According to Lt. Colonel Matt Garner, public affairs Officer for the 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Wilfahrt was killed while on patrol in Kandahar Province Afghanistan on February 27, 2011.
As I went a bit further into the binary cloud I did see a path start to emerge out of the liquid crystal display, it got worse and was somehow even more frightening. According to multiple sources including the AP: On Tuesday March 1, 2011, at 11:30am local time, troops in a U.S.-led coalition Helicopter opened fire with machine guns and rockets on nine children collecting firewood in the Pech Valley, Kunar Province Afghanistan. The nine boys ranged in age from 7 to 13 years old. Regretfully my search to locate the identities of these small victims dying in their now was fruitless.
Appoligies have been sent through the diplomatic channels, but it sound like they have fallen on deaf ears from what I can tell. Hundreds took to the streets in Kabul the very next day to exclaim their hatred of those, which is us who are responsible for the deaths of the innocent young. The rhetoric from Hamid Karzai to President Obama through Commander of Operations, General David Petraeus took a hard line straight through the end of last week. Karzai was quoted with stating to Petraeus that, "Apologies are not enough." I am not sure what that actually means, however I do know this; this one incident, this one example of what detachment from rules of engagement actually manifests, creates more enemies in the now than you could ever imagine existed just ten years ago.
To me the deaths of the soldiers and the children being hit in the middle of the day seem intrinsically attached. As with ego based pride (we are conditioned that pride is good), the minute that the look inward reveals to any human willing to accept how easy it actually is, what is truly going on will stop, and in its place will be the reality of being. Until then, it is all a complete nightmare so scary that it is almost a parody of itself as it plays out before me.