Michael's Dispatches

War Boy


26 September 2011
Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan
Task Force Spartan, 4-4 Cav


The boy knew it would be loud.


He looked to the Soldier.


He waited for the shots.


The Afghan Soldiers had seen armed men shadowing us.  This one said they had gone into the building he was aiming at.


Just a short distance behind us, the patrol had already hit an IED with a minor casualty.  We had taken small arms fire without consequence.  More contact was expected.


The Soldier looked at the boy for a moment, then kept his rifle pointed at the building.  Nothing happened and the Afghan Soldiers and 4-4 Cav kept going.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Emil · 10 years ago

    Keep up the good work Yon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    John - Capt in ANG · 10 years ago
    I'm not quite tracking your line of thought. Is it sad because the boy knows to expect loud noises when you're ambushed? I don't quite read in their visually-captured by film "body language" any sense of fear. If I'm worried about a firefight, the last thing I'm doing is standing straight up, in a doorway, exposed to the outside (and the obvious target of the firefight).
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Max Doner · 10 years ago
    John - I think that what is sad that firefights are so ordinary in this boy's life and experience that he is not even afraid of them anymore - he just knows to plug his ears. Children becoming this acclimated to war is sad indeed.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tommy Barrios · 10 years ago
    Thankful that armed combat is not occurring in our country, because why?

    Presently it's Constitution and a Federated Republic under LAW!

    People in the middle east have never known the freedoms under our system that the American sheep take so much for granted.

    It's civilians in situations like these that end up bearing the brunt of war and the resulting downside to peace and harmony, so much so, that they become as apathetic to war as American are to peace.

    If things don't change here back home in the very future, I fear we may become as pathetic as the Afghans, living in constant strife and war at home.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CB · 10 years ago
    I am sure there is a history on both sides. But we need to remember that the military has a responsibility to see the warning flags and act. How many times have we sat by and done nothing as a good soldier selfdestructs leaving carnage in his wake. if the signs are there and nobody acts, what confidence is that demonstrating in our chain of command and how can we expect fellow soldiers to speak up if they just become a target when nothing is done. Do we leave in peace (demonstrated) or are we no better than those we condemn. I don't see it as Michael publicly targeting some one, but more showing that there is no help for either party. This is not the only personal problem. There are many at all levels, but why is it allowed to get to the point of flashing. There is safety in publicity and bringing awareness. It is a dangerous game. We see it in the documentation, if not addressed who is responsible. There will be an incident but will we see it or will it be covered up and more blame.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shaun · 10 years ago
    Why should such innocent eyes hold so much fear?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    william · 10 years ago
    im not really sure if i got the point of this article. im sorry. a military unit has an out of story experience with a IED (would have made a story), small arms fire received (would have made a story), possibly armed guerrillas in a building (we never find out if they even went in to take a look but it might have made a story), and a boy covers his ears (which isnt really a story at all).

    sorry, as a former marine i find the pics poignant but theres not a story there. you are saying you tell the stories that arent being told. what exactly is the story here?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    James L. Owens · 10 years ago
    The pictures of those soldiers walking down a ditch with brush on both sides gave me the creeps. A little like areas in 'Nam except the bushes were bamboo. The VC often rigged booby traps up high so that the shrapnel covered a larger area. Keeep your flak jacket zipped.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jackie · 10 years ago
    @ William - Do you have kids? It's the little things that tell the deeper meaning behind the story. These pictures alone speak volumes to me.

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