Our conversation with veterans Kevin and Deborah Trimble.
Kevin Trimble’s life changed forever on September 18, 2011. A private in the army, his unit was sweeping a village in Afghanistan for IEDs when, as he puts it, they found one the hard way. Specialist Ryan James Cook, the soldier who stepped on the IED, died immediately. Kevin was standing eleven feet away and lost both legs and his left arm.
Minutes later, on the other side of the ocean, his sister, Deborah Trimble, answered her phone. A military police officer with the Air Force, she was her brother’s emergency contact, and she tried to understand what the sergeant at the other end of the line was telling her. Her brother was still on his way to the hospital, and the extent of his injuries was not yet clear.
Anyone who goes to fight for the U.S. military in Afghanistan is putting themselves in harm’s way. However, few had a more dangerous job than Grayling, Mich. native Army Sgt. Anthony Gazvoda.
Gazvoda’s job was to clear the roads for his fellow soldiers. This meant he was on the lookout for Improvised Explosive Devices and potential ambushes. By the time Gazvoda left the service with an honorable discharge and a commendation for valor, he had been involved in 34 firefights and dealt with 32 IED incidents.
Especially in the early years of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldiers burned their waste in big, open-air pits. They burned everything from tires, batteries, and plastic to human and medical waste.
Curtis Gibson is an Air Force veteran. He served in Afghanistan in late 2011.
“I’d see things floating in the air — burned papers — you see them floating through the air so you know you’re taking something in,” Gibson says.
He says he had a medical exam when he came home to Detroit.
Khalid Hanifi is a singer-songwriter who brings an unusual perspective to the songs and lyrics that he writes.
He's based in Ann Arbor, but as the son of an Afghan man who came from Kabul to the United States in 1956, Khalid has a foot in both worlds, and that informs his writing, from songs to his blog on the Huffington Post.
This afternoon, Zachary Shanafelt's body will arrive at the Gerald R. Ford airport in Grand Rapids.
Shanafelt's family says they will meet the plane, and there will be a procession to the Pederson Funeral Home in Rockford where a visitation will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. prior to tomorrow's funeral service.
Shanafelt leaves behind his wife, and 13-month old son, according to his obituary.
His son Daniel was truly the “apple of his father’s eye,” and his wife Marina was the “love of his life.” For him to have had that, we are all very humbly grateful.
Shanafelt became the 65th Michigander to die as a result of the war in Afghanistan, according to iCasuaties.org.
The average age of those killed thus far is 26.
160 Michiganders died while serving in the Iraq War with an average age of 27.
ADDISON, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan memorial service is Saturday for a U.S. Army nurse who died suddenly in Afghanistan during a computer video chat with his wife.
The service for 43-year-old Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Addison Middle School, about 70 miles southwest of Detroit. He grew up in Michigan.
Clark was assigned to a medical center in El Paso, Texas, and then deployed to Afghanistan in March. His wife, Susan Orellana-Clark, was in Texas chatting with him via Skype on April 30 when he collapsed. The death is under investigation.
A funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in western New York.
Clark's wife is from Spencerport, N.Y. He and his family lived there for six years before he joined the Army in 2006.
A young Army soldier from Boyne City died in Afghanistan last month (November 21) - just two months into his deployment. U.S. Army Pvt. 2nd Class Jack Lee Diener was 20 when he was killed by small arms fire in Kandahar province. Diener graduated from Boyne City High School in 2009. Flags in Michigan are flying at half staff today in his honor. In Boyne City, flags were lowered the day the town heard of his death on November 22. From the November 22 PetoskyNews.com:
Earlier today I posted the stories of two young veterans who had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Multiple tours overseas is common in today's military. Re-enlistments helped keep these wars supplied with soldiers over the last ten years.
The problem, as Bernard Rostker of the Rand Corporation put it, "the more you go the more you’re exposed, the more likely you will eventually have some adverse psychological reactions."
Rostker is a former Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, and a former senior policy advisor on recruitment for the Secretary of Defense.
He said the propensity to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is cumulative. And with soldiers serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they're more at risk than a soldier serving a single tour.
PTSD can show up much later in life.
"This is going to be a huge concern for the military," said Rostker.
"Rand did a study, it was a random telephone interview of large numbers of vets using screening techniques for PTSD, and came to the conclusion that there was a huge number of unreported cases. It was controversial with the Department of Defense who looked at the number of people being treated versus those identified with PTSD and noticed lots were going untreated," said Rostker.
A Marine from Genesee County has been reported killed during combat operations in Afghanistan.
The military says Friday that 28-year-old staff Sgt. Nicholas Sprovtsoff of Davison and 27-year-old Sgt. Christopher Diaz of Albuquerque died Wednesday in Helmand Province.
Sprovtsoff was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Pendleton, California. Diaz was assigned to Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California.
About a thousand Michigan Army and Air National Guardsmen will spend the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend back home, after spending the past year in Iraq and Kuwait. Two battalions of guardsmen have been arriving in cities and towns across Michigan during the past few days.
Captain Aaron Jenkins is a Michigan National Guard spokesman. He says moving the troops from the Middle East to Michigan is complicated by the need to bring their equipment back with the troops.
The military says a 34-year-old Navy SEAL from Michigan was one of 30 American military personnel killed when their Chinook helicopter was shot down by insurgents in Afghanistan.
The Defense Department released Heath Robinson's name Thursday, listing his hometown as Detroit.
The special warfare operator chief petty officer and others aboard the helicopter died Saturday in Wardak Province while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He is the only Michigan resident listed among the fatalities.
Of those killed 17 were SEALs and five were Navy special operations troops supporting them. Three Air Force airmen, a five-member Army air crew, seven Afghan commandos and an Afghan interpreter also were killed.
The crash, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul, was the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the nearly 10-year Afghan war.
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. military says a 28-year-old Army sergeant from Battle Creek has been killed in an enemy attack in Afghanistan.
The Defense Department said Thursday that Staff Sgt. Joshua Throckmorton died Tuesday in Afghanistan's Paktia province. The military says Throckmorton died of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
Also killed in the attack were 24-year-old Spc. Jordan Schumann of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and 22-year-old Spc. Preston Suter of Sandy, Utah.
They were part of the 709th Military Police Battalion in Hohenfels, Germany.
Growing numbers of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are balking both at the length of the war in Afghanistan and its cost.
Late last month, a few weeks after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Republican-run House voted on a bipartisan amendment aimed at hastening an end to the war in Afghanistan. To the surprise of many, it fell just six votes shy of passing.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) was one of 26 members of his party who joined nearly every Democrat in voting for the measure.
A sniper's bullet hit Boothroyd's Kevlar helmet while on patrol in southern Afghanistan.
Boothroyd thought the helmet stopped the bullet, but the bullet was later found lodged behind his right ear - millimeters away from a main artery and his spinal cord.
From the article:
Boothroyd III travels back to Midland this week with his wife Ashley Boothroyd from Maryland. Their 2-year-old son, Paul Boothroyd IV, is with his grandparents waiting for his parent’s return to Michigan.
He enlisted in the Marines following high school. After acing a linguistics test, the Marines sent him to school, where he learned to speak modern and traditional dialects of Arabic, including Iraqi.
After his time off in Midland, Boothroyd III plans to return to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina awaiting his next tour of duty. He says he appreciates his time off, but wants to return to the Middle East.
Boothroyd says he looks forward to "get back to the fight."
U.S. Senator Carl Levin says success depends on two factors. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee says the Obama administration should stick to the July deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and make sure the country can continue to build up its own security forces.
The committee’s ranking republican Senator John McCain opposes the deadline.
Levin told a gathering in West Michigan Monday the deadline has helped the Afghanistan police and army exceed recruitment goals. He called a large, effective home-grown security force in Afghanistan “the Taliban’s worst nightmare.”
“Because it would demonstrate that contrary to their propaganda the war against the Taliban is not a war of foreign occupiers seeking control, that it is instead a war that the Afgan people believe in.”
Levin told a crowd in Grand Rapids that President Obama's deadline in July to begin transferring power to the government of Afghanistan has put pressure on the situation in a good way.