‘What a way to start a Sunday’

Published 9:19 pm Saturday, January 26, 2013

By SFC Ed Holland

Wow, this is my sixth deployment. I have participated in every major U.S. conflict since the Gulf War. Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and now Enduring Freedom.

Things are far different here in Afghanistan than most people understand. Things here are different than they were in Iraq — the terrain, the techniques and our advise-and-assist mission. But no matter how much we advise and assist, the threat is always around us.

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Today was a good example. We have to depend on the local population for many goods and services, including fuel. Today we had several fuel trucks come in, and our military working dog “sat” on one of them. Upon inspecting it several more times the result was the same.

I said to myself, “What a way to start a Sunday.” I immediately notified Explosive Ordinance Disposal. They are at a different location, so it would be a minute before they arrive. We stop all traffic on the road where the truck is sitting and watch it like hawks through our cameras.

Finally EOD arrived and asked for a sitrep. I explained the situation to them and they went into action. I have learned during my 18-year career that if it’s not your area of expertise, you should let the professionals do it. I am a field artilleryman, so explosives are not my expertise. I know my limitations.

Once EOD had secured the area, a tech came in the bomb suit. He walked to the targeted vehicle, and I am was just amazed at how a little person could carry so much weight and still function. He swept the truck and looked at every single compartment and corner to ensure nothing was there.

It was a very tense moment for us all. A fuel truck detonation would make for a really bad day.

After a meticulous search, nothing was found. We all gave a huge sigh of relief.

This is a typical day in Afghanistan. Either you are being shot at, you’re looking for improvised explosive devices, you’re dodging indirect fire or your eyes are peeled for vehicle-borne IEDs. So there are plenty of things to make my job a tense one.

But I am blessed to have the tools, training and knowledge, and more importantly — my soldiers. They do a great job making my job easy. So if you know soldiers, thank them for their service. Even if you don’t know a soldier, when you see one thank him or her. If you need one, I have 54 that would be more than willing to give you a handshake, hug, a fist-pound or whatever type of greeting you would like.

On a more somber note. I found out that I lost a battle buddy this past week. I would like to send my condolences out to the family and friends of Sgt. David Chambers from Hampton. He was killed in action Jan. 16. I did not know him personally, but he was a soldier who gave his life for our freedom. He paid the ultimate sacrifice and will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

If his family somehow reads this article, I want them to know their son accepted the challenge, the challenge of a soldier to support and defend our country, the greatest country in the world. He will never be forgotten.

For folks who’d like to contact me or my soldiers, here’s a good address for us: SFC EDDIE L. HOLLAND; HHB 3/32OTH FAR; FOB LIGHTNING, AF; APO AE 09339.

Thank you and God bless.

Sgt. First Class Ed Holland, a 1989 graduate of Suffolk High School, has been in the U.S. Army for 18 years. He is on his sixth deployment, including five to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.