Thursday, July 06, 2006

Relief in Place, First Loss and Kites

On the Fourth of July, we assumed the mission of CJTF Phoenix. It was a beautiful day preceded by the rares of Afghan events a double rainbow foreshadowing the polychromatic light of the upcoming leadership of Task Force Phoenix. It was a great day for all of us.

On July fifth, almost exactly 24 hours into the mission, we had our first casualty. It made for a serious and unpleasant welcome to the reality of the environment we have now entered. 1st Sgt. (posthumously promoted to Sgt. Maj.) Jeffrey McLochlin had served with Phoenix for ten months as an embedded trainer. He was what we call a “4.25 guy” meaning that he had served with Phoenix IV from about a fourth of the way through the mission and was going to remain with us for about two more months. Like the motto of the 75th Ranger Regiment he once served within, he was leading the way until the end. He was killed by enemy small arms fire. His legacy was that of a beloved leader of soldiers both U.S. and Afghan, a loving father and husband, and professional police officer. He was 42 years old.

That evening, several of us joined Lt. Col. Gregory Moore, my predecessor, in his last mission. We drove up to the top of Mausoleum Hill to distribute kites to Afghan children. They were very nice kites, professional quality nylon with a variety of shapes and sizes. The kids loved them and were so happy to fly them in the blistering wind. It was almost too extreme to get them into the air.

I thought of First Sergeant Jeffrey McLochlin's spirit flying high over the Afghan countryside where his spirit left this world, and the children he left behind. Fly on, First Sergeant. Fly on.

-out here

3 Comments:

Blogger Kat said...

I'm so sorry to hear of you loss - a loss that saddens all of us. Sorry I'm posting this comment so late, but i just found your blog today.

Y'all are in our prayers.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Marian said...

Thanks for the insight into what it is like in Afghanistan. Your writing style is so vivid! Have you written any books? If not, I hope you are working on it! Thank you for your service to our nation. God bless.
Marian

11:59 AM  
Blogger Luke said...

Thanks for telling the story on Sgt Maj.McLochlin could Major Strong contact me with a e-mail to get you in touch with the Sgt Maj.
McLochlin's wife.

1:28 PM  

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