Relief in Place, First Loss and Kites
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.