Molokai Soldier in Afghanistan: Part III

Jesse English, 1990 Molokai grad, tells his story.

The people of Afghanistan are mostly pleasant, hard-working, and pose no threat to US or Coalition forces.  They are simple and lack much if any education. Most have no concept of what is going on in the world around them. 

I once tried to explain through my interpreter what a convenience store or a mall was and I was totally unable to get them to even grasp the idea. 

The children are the most loved by troops. They will stand by the roads and wave with the biggest smiles you have ever seen.  Most are poorly clothed and usually covered in dirt.

The children will run across a field to get near you in the hopes that you may throw them a piece of candy or a pen.  They have learned that we are here to help them and us the "thumbs-up" sign as we drive or walk by. 

Personally, the living conditions and stench can disgust me at times, but the children make it all worth wile. 

Sometimes, when you have been shot at or caught in a rocket attack you get very angry. It can be hard not to be distrustful of everyone you see; Afghanis all look similar and the bad guys do not wear any kind of uniform to differentiate themselves. 

The only way to recognize a bad guy is when he or she pulls an AK-47 rifle out or a rocket-propelled grenade and points it or shoots it at you.  Sometimes it is too late to figure it out. 

In the end, the innocent and beautiful children are sometimes the only thing that keeps you going because they have no choice in the matter and someone has to look out for them.
I had always been poor growing up, and felt that I had a good appreciation for things, but five and a half months later upon my return from my first deployment all of life seemed even sweeter. 

To be able to walk outside and not have to wear body armor, a helmet, night-vision goggles or to carry a rifle was nice.  To be in a real house with clean running water and carpeting and not have to worry about mortars and rockets shelling you is bliss. 

After months of eating nothing but MRE's and drinking plain bottled water, the simple act of getting in your car and driving to the store and being able to buy or eat anything you want any time is more than I can describe. 

Being able to watch REAL television and drink a beer is probably taken for granted by every person in America, but once you have been deployed to combat for any length of time it is pure heaven. 


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