4:11 | He rose early to play golf but the sight of the Twin Towers in flames changed his plans. Doug Heckman was a Green Beret in the reserve and he knew what was coming. Soon he was selected by Col. John Mulholland for the Special Forces team leading the mission in Afghanistan.
Between West Point and Ranger school, mind and body were as well trained as it gets. Doug Heckman valued those experiences as he deployed to Europe when Ronald Reagan faced off with the Soviets.
Doug Heckman had been part of the initial Special Forces leadership in Afghanistan and in 2005 he volunteered for Iraq. He and his men got their combat badges the very first day when an IED hit their convoy. He says the Iraqi people are like people anywhere and were very hospitable to him.
The surge was succeeding but at a price. Doug Heckman liked riding in the lead vehicle but was in the second one the day Captain Shawn English had the lead and took the brunt of the blast from an IED. This altered his view of how high the bar should be set for military commitment.
Doug Heckman returned for a second Iraq tour and chipped a golf ball into Saddam's lake at the Grand Palace on his birthday. This was the wrap up to a great career and he reflects on that and on the relationship between Americans and their warriors.
The logistical problems were monumental, but a few hundred Americans from a range of units and agencies ran the effort in Northern Afghanistan from a former Soviet air base in Uzbekistan. Doug Heckman describes the challenges the team faced in supporting the Northern Alliance and remembers Johnny Spann, the first American to lose his life in the war.
Doug Heckman's Green Beret A Team was a group of highly trained and experienced specialists. Their primary mission area was North Africa. He got to see Rommel's caves in the Sahara but felt the lure of a business career and pursued an MBA while staying active in reserve.
In contrast to Fort Lee, at Fort Hood Alexander found that she did little to no cooking whatsoever so she could prepare to go to Afghanistan. Once she had flown overseas, she was stationed at Shindand Air Base and was tasked with all of the mundane jobs no one else wanted to do, in addition to cooking the food, such as being put on Quick Reaction Force duty.
Jon Keen was helping unload casualties in Asadabad, Afghanistan when he saw his platoon sergeant among the wounded, a sight which seared his memory. It was difficult for the Afghans as well. The dead children he carried from helicopters is another forever memory. During this time, two Medal of Honor events occurred in a large operation called Rock Avalanche.
He had only been in country for a month. Larry Draughn was supposed to be training with a drone, but when he heard that his unit was going out, he insisted on going with them. They found twenty IED's before he found the wrong one. (Caution: strong language.)
Qalat is a village in Zabul province that was in the area of operation for the 618th Engineer Support Company. The job for Adam Keys and the others was to locate IED's built and hidden by the Taliban. You look for any anomaly, anything out of place, but when you are foreign, everything looks out of place.
Justice details a too-close-for-comfort interaction with a vehicle-borne IED. The IED came as a complete surprise and the entire F.O.B. fell into what Justice could only describe as “chaos” immediately following the explosion. She suffered several injuries and had to work with the nurses back in Bagram and depend on the friendship of comrade Colonel Ellison to come back from the injuries.
Kyle Wise was chief of a human intelligence collection team based in Kabul. This meant he had to question a lot of locals, including one who provided some excellent information on some high value targets. In an unusual move, Wise accompanied the Special Forces team which set out with the source to bring in the terrorists. Part 1 of 2.
Only days after an IED blast nearly killed him in Afghanistan, Larry Draughn was awake and flattering nurses in a hospital in Germany. A man in a suit came in and he had the president on the phone. What happened next caused a bit of consternation. (Caution: strong language.)
One guy got away. During the capture of several terrorist targets, one intrepid Afghani escaped on foot but the rest were captured. Some interesting materials were found in the compound, including blueprints of the Guantanemo Bay facility. Kyle Wise saw the stature of his intelligence unit rise after this operation, although the embassy was definitely through loaning them vehicles. Part 2 of 2.
Larry Draughn got to his base in Afghanistan in the middle of the night. He knew it was gong to be a rough time, but when the sun came up, it was absolutely beautiful, a stunning countryside. Then the dirty business of patrolling began.
Kyle Wise discusses the interplay between various Afghan warlords and how the American forces tried to deal with the difficult and chaotic scenario. His intelligence gathering team was responsible for a whopping forty percent of all information collected in the entire theater. This got them noticed.
Fishing tournaments and training for hand cycle marathons have kept Larry Draughn busy since he was grievously wounded in Afghanistan. He relishes the time with his family and enthusiastically supports the growing movement for veteran reunions. (Caution: strong language.)
Adam Keys describes the various methods of building and detonating IED's used by the enemy in Afghanistan. His unit's job was to find these things. Back at the base, you might get a little time to watch some DVD's of the latest TV shows.
In the intelligence game, you often find good information at places that are outside normal daily life. For instance, Kyle Wise was able to do exactly that in a case involving an Afghan officer and the local house of ill repute.
His determination to recover from his severe wounds surprised his doctors. Larry Draughn quickly got free of the IV's and took his son to a baseball game. In less than a month, he was discharged. No one had ever recovered that quickly. Then he determined that he would meet the airplane when his unit returned form Afghanistan.
Kyle Wise couldn't believe it. A child had wandered into the middle of a firefight. Once that part of the drama was over, help arrived and he was able to go back to base and get treatment for a nasty blow to the head. Then it was right back to the field where the team encountered an Afghan "man dance." The reason for the celebration was quite ironic. Part 2 of 2.
It was much more difficult and dangerous working with warlords and tribes than with government entities. Counterintelligence agent Kyle Wise had a huge area of operation that encompassed several provinces. Developing sources was a big part of his work and he sometimes provided them with cameras and recorders. His team managed to bring down one of the most most notorious warlords in Afghanistan.
After the IED sent him flying, Adam Keys was talking and yelling for his buddies. He doesn't remember any of it and only knows this because he was told bout it. A long recovery began in hospitals back home and even they gave up on him but his mother never did.
Kyle Wise was working out of Gardez with a new intelligence team that supported the Special Forces. During the investigation and demolition of a huge IED, bullets began flying and the team returned fire. During the battle, he received an injury not from a weapon, but from his own vehicle. Then, he saw something approaching on his periphery. Part 1 of 2.
One thing about the Army, you make tons of friends. That was a great part of training for Adam Keys. Not long after that was over, orders came for Afghanistan, so he married his girlfriend and flew off to join the buildup ordered by President Obama.
Before he left Afghanistan, Kyle Wise was subjected to one more blast when the building he was searching was hit by a rocket attack. When he was back stateside, his wife noticed some changes in him. Eventually, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, a condition that was occurring more and more in that conflict.
Britney Alexander was born and raised in Louisiana and had a dad who was an Army figure. Because of her great love for her dad, she wanted to enlist in the Army just like him. She talks about where she was on 9/11, her basic training at Fort Jackson, and Fort Lee where she had her training to be a cook.
They were looking for a giant IED that was over a thousand pounds. Adam Keys was on the ground team that day and that meant he had to exit the vehicle and sweep the area. What he didn't know is that they were parked right on top of what they were looking for. As he stepped from the door, the bomb was detonated.
Following the September 11th attacks, the path to war was unclear. General Dick Myers describes the weeks following from his position as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Interview conducted in partnership with the Eisenhower Foundation as part of their Ike's Soldiers program. https://eisenhowerfoundation.net & http://ikessoldiers.com)
At long last, Britney Alexander was allowed to fly back home to American soil. When they finally landed in the US, they were met with all kinds of cheering and applause from the people waiting for them. Instead of getting deployed to Afghanistan a second time, she was forced to step down after discovering the effects of a hip injury she had gotten. Soon after, she took a job as a truck driver and decided to go to business school, with plans to start up her own truck company later on down the line.