Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
I never felt angry until I went home on leave.After hours spent with my deeply supportive and loving family, I would sometimes find myself retreating to a secluded spot to stare at the wall and clench various muscles. Perhaps a part of my reaction was that, in my mind, I had no reason to be angry.
My time in Afghanistan was defined by walking back and forth from our gunpit to the FOB DFAC, fighting the bureaucratic hydra that is Army ammunition management, and hearing the most soul-chilling stories related in casual conversation over a cup of terrible coffee. Why did I feel anything except relief that I was finally out of theater?
In the Army, there are many forms of strange currency, but one of the most potent is our stories. When I once again switched jobs following my redeployment, the soldiers, NCOs and I must have spent the first week doing almost nothing but swapping stories, some of combat, but most of standard-issue Army lunacy. It was a way not only of establishing credibility, but of building a relationship; a relationship built on the fact that we were all members of the initiated – we were a community.
All of us knew that whatever story we told, it would be accepted at face value by the listener. The tale of a late-night rocket finding its way into the window of an Afghan guard tower, along with the following discovery of a fifth dismembered hand and the realization that there were several more than two bodies in the wreckage, did not trigger any deep-seated political sentiment or speculation on the longevity of the war. That wasn't the point of the story.
This raises the question of just what exactly is the point of a war story. Why was that interpreter shot through the throat by the woman she was interrogating? Why did that Hellfire missile not detonate when it hit the fleeing insurgent in the small of the back?
Perhaps a better question to ask is just why do we, as a society, insist on searching for absolute meaning in stories about war. Maybe it is our expectation as a culture that war is the ultimate coming-of-age story that contributes to this. Sometimes our desire to apportion blame is what does it; the politically aware tend to extrapolate vast policy criticisms from personal stories.
Then again, it could also be the fact that most war stories Americans hear are neatly tied up with a Hollywood bow. Whatever the timbre of the audience, their pre-conceived opinions always tend to mold the reaction, regardless of the original experience that was trying to be communicated.
This was the fundamental difference I realized while at home. The questions about the war from well-meaning friends, the concerned and sympathetic looks – how was I to say anything except "I was in a pretty quiet area, I didn't see much."
These people weren't members of my tribe, and their reactions were unpredictable. There was no shared understanding of experience, and this made it extremely difficult to communicate the knowledge and memories that I had acquired either first or second-hand during my time at war.
I'm unsure what they could have been reasonably expected to do in order to put me at ease, however I do know this from my experience as a frequent listener to stories of violence – the most important thing to really, truly listen to a war story is an attentive and empathetic ear.
Liam Parker is an active duty 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. His recent time in Afghanistan was spent in support Operation Resolute Support and Operation Freedom's Sentinel, during which time he was most impressed by the number of ice cream flavors available and the quality of gyms in-theater. This article represents his own personal views, which are not necessarily those of the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense.
The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.
The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.
The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.
Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.
Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.
Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.
These CIA officers were the first US boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 — and one was 'Marine Todd'
Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.
The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.
Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."
That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.
Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.
"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.
Sometimes a joke just doesn't work.
For example, the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service tweeted and subsequently deleted a Gilbert Gottfried-esque misfire about the "Storm Area 51" movement.
On Friday DVIDSHUB tweeted a picture of a B-2 bomber on the flight line with a formation of airmen in front of it along with the caption: "The last thing #Millenials will see if they attempt the #area51raid today."